On Monday morning, Challenger K-8 second-grade teacher Stacey Visceglie welcomed her class with the typical "Good morning, class, class, class." • They replied, "Good morning, yes, yes, yes."
The repetitive nature of her greeting was likely part of the reason Visceglie was named the Hernando County School District's 2015 Teacher of the Year during a banquet Saturday night at Silverthorn Country Club.
She uses a system called "whole brain teaching," which she explained is based on engaging all parts of the brain, encouraging interaction, using repetition and gestures, and quick assessment.
Visceglie, 47, presents information in small chunks and uses a lot of attention-getters to keep students on task. For example, she might ask the question: "What is a noun?" The children will repeat the question.
Then she will tell the students what a noun is, using animated hand gestures.
"A noun is a person. A noun is a place. A noun is a thing."
The children will repeat that, using the same gestures toward one another. She then gives examples of nouns and asks them for other examples.
For a quick test, the children put their heads down. She runs several words past them, asking for thumbs up or down with each example as to whether the word is a noun or not. She instantly knows which children have grasped the concept.
Visceglie teaches 30 students as a team with Tammy Quinn.
"We taught side by side for many years," Visceglie said.
They decided they could do a better job if they worked in one classroom and received permission to do so. They are in their fifth year working together.
This is their second year using the whole brain method. Visceglie learned about it from YouTube and began researching it. She asked the school's principal to send her and other interested teachers to a training session in Louisiana two summers ago, "which gave us an in-depth look at why whole brain teaching is effective in the classroom," she said.
That training was followed by a visit to the district last summer by the method's founder, Chris Biffle. Whole brain teaching addresses academics and behavior, and can be customized to elementary and middle school teaching.
Visceglie said that when she heard her name announced as Teacher of the Year, she was humbled.
"Every teacher in that room should have been recognized as Teacher of the Year," she said, referring to the other nominees who were present.
Her reaction, she said, was sheer delight.
"It makes your heart cry with tears of joy," she said.
Visceglie has been at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics for 10 years. Before that, she taught at Brooksville Elementary School and at Methodist School Center. She has been teaching for 19 years.
Gianni Labdar, 8, is one of Visceglie's students. He looked at his teacher Monday morning and said, "You were nominated for Teacher of the Year because we're like good listeners."
He turned and added, "She teaches us a lot of stuff."
Classmate Savannah Imhof, 7, agreed.
Visceglie won, she said, "because of us. We work really hard in class."