WITN’S Teacher of the Week: Rachel Roccuzzo of Vanceboro Farm Life Elementary School

CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - WITN's Teacher of the Week for March 13 is Rachel Roccuzzo of Vanceboro Farm Life Elementary School in Craven County.

Roccuzzo is originally from the small, rural, town of New Egypt, New Jersey. She is the only child of two loving parents, Bob and Debbie Roccuzzo. She graduated from East Carolina University with her degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading in December of 2016. The following month, she started working at Vanceboro Farm Life Elementary School as a third grade teacher. At the start of this school year she was named Team Leader of third grade at the school. In addition to teaching, Roccuzzo coaches the “Girls on the Run” program with girls in grades 3-5.

“Teaching has been one of the most rewarding, yet challenging things I have ever done,” Roccuzzo writes. “I am thankful for the teachers from my childhood that inspired me to become an educator. I have always had a passion for learning; however, in Elementary school I had difficulty in reading. My Reading Recovery teacher helped build my confidence, not only as a reader, but as an individual. Though our school experiences may not always be positive, it’s the way we are taught to handle those experiences that makes them valuable nonetheless. I want to help children view the obstacles that life gives us as challenges that they want to overcome, just as my teachers did for me. I have learned that being a teacher is not solely about teaching the content, it is about teaching the whole child: mind, body and soul. As teachers, we need not to be teaching children what to think, but instead how to think. I have had teachers tell me that I could do anything I set my mind to, but I was not able to fully comprehend what that meant until I had teachers that made an effort to make connections to me and my life.

“Now that I have my own classroom, I love that I can foster a safe, caring and friendly environment all by making connections with my students. My goal is to empower all of my students to be confident in themselves and to believe that they can be successful in anything they put their minds to. Every child can be a leader if we provide them with the opportunity, resources and support they need. I aspire to make a difference in education and see the leader that is inside all students, one connection at a time,” Roccuzzo writes.

The parent who nominated Roccuzzo wrote: “She is passionate about helping each and every one of her students. Miss Roccuzzo works vigorously to make sure that all of her students are able to reach their highest potential. You can see that she is highly committed to every student in her class. She is always positive and comes to school with a smile. She greets the children each day and is motivated to help them succeed in every way. Miss Roccuzzo always communicates exactly what the students are learning and shares videos about their learning process. Students in her classroom are able to work in a positive environment as she teaches the importance of kindness and respect for others. I am thankful that my son is able to have such a hard-working teacher that has established a positive place for him to maximize his learning. She is most definitely deserving of an award for being an outstanding teacher and dedicating so much energy to helping children.”

Congratulations, Ms. Roccuzzo!

Every week during the school year WITN will recognize a Teacher of the Week on WITN News at Sunrise. The winner receives a plaque and $100 Walmart gift card. To nominate your teacher, email TOTW@witn.com.