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Michael J. Moffett, Teacher Education Scholarship Winner,
Fall I, 2010

Dominican University, in partnership with Bisk Education, Inc., is proud to recognize Michael J. Moffett – a special education teacher at Miami Northwestern Senior High School – as one of five winners of the Bisk Foundation Teacher Education Scholarship for the Fall I, 2010 session. The scholarship supports the ongoing professional development of teachers who are making a difference in others’ lives.

Recognized by his peers for his outstanding work, Moffett is committed to motivating his students to achieve the highest standards in academics. His goal is to create a climate of excellence that will empower them to lead productive and fulfilling lives as lifelong learners and responsible citizens.

Moffett, who is enrolled in Dominican University’s online Master of Arts in Education program with a concentration in Reading, recently shared his philosophy and experiences with teaching, and discussed how the scholarship will help him continue making a difference in the lives of his students.

“Educators are presented with the greatest mission of all, which is to enrich and develop the minds of our future. Teaching is far more than simply dispensing knowledge to students. It gives us the opportunity to take a subject and make it come to life,” Moffett stated.

One of the many ways Moffett has made a difference in the lives of his Miami Northwestern high school students was by creating the Students Taking a New Direction (STAND) Program, which encourages students to develop positive behaviors as well as strong academic and leadership qualities. “Our initial goal was to have 85% of students earn an overall GPA of 2.5 or higher, with no after-school detention,” explained Moffett. “After its first year, 100% of STAND students had achieved a 2.5 GPA.”

When asked what work and life experiences he brings to his work as a teacher, Moffett shared insights on how he has worked extensively with a diverse group of children and adolescents. “I’ve seen first-hand that different people have different learning styles, and I have a deep understanding of human behavior,” said Moffett. “This helps me establish and maintain an excellent rapport with students, parents, colleagues and community leaders.”

“I believe instruction should be student-centered to allow for more collaborative, hands-on and captivating learning,” noted Moffett, who describes his teaching style as “eclectic.” “I’m organized and focused, but I vary my instructional methods to incorporate a range of activities and materials to keep students engaged.”

Last year, Moffett set a goal for all his special education students to improve their reading fluency and comprehension one grade level by the end of the year. At the beginning of the school year, 75% of his students were reading two or more grade levels below. By June, every one of his students had improved one or more grade levels.

When asked how he accomplished this impressive feat, Moffett replied, “I had all my students read assignments and stories orally, and instructed them to sound out words they could not pronounce. Then I asked them questions directly after they read a paragraph to help improve comprehension.” He also implemented weekly vocabulary words that students were required to use in a sentence every day. By integrating the vocabulary words with life lessons and rap songs, Moffett was able to make them more relevant and fun.

“I enjoy learning new teaching methods that will assist my students in achieving their academic and social goals. The Bisk Foundation Teacher Education Scholarship will give me the opportunity to exchange best practices in teaching with outstanding professors and sharpen my teaching methods. It will also assist me in closing the achievement gap in my school,” said Moffett.

In addition to the Bisk Foundation Teacher Education Scholarship, Moffett’s achievements include the Distinguished Service Award from California University of Pennsylvania and the Excellence Award from Three Rivers Youth, Inc.

Founded in 1955, Miami Northwestern Senior High has a long history of excellence in teaching and takes great pride in its team of dedicated and caring faculty members. The respect between Moffett and his fellow educators is mutual. One colleague praised Moffett for his “impeccable values and morals” and for serving as a positive role model, and noted, “His enthusiasm in and out of the classroom motivates students and makes his class an enjoyable learning experience.”

Together with Dominican University, Bisk Education, Inc. is proud to salute Michael Moffett – a true everyday hero who is making a difference through the gift of education!