The Reitman Teacher of the Year Award was established by the Reitman family in 1976, to honor that teacher who, in the estimation of the students and the faculty of Cushing Academy, has achieved distinction as a faculty member. This award represents the highest honor that a faculty member can receive as a part of the Cushing community.
The 2018 recipient of this award is Gisele Zangari, who retires from Cushing this year. Mrs. Zangari and her husband Kenneth have been fixtures of academic, campus, and dorm life here at Cushing for over a decade. Her immeasurable service to the academy and its people is also reflected in her receipt of the 2018 Penguin Yearbook dedication, an honor selected by the senior class.
By chance, Madison Lessard ’18 was placed in Honors Geometry with Mrs. Zangari during her freshman year at Cushing. Madison explained in her introduction to the Teacher of the Year Award that not only was she unsure about high school, she was also unconvinced of her mathematical prowess. “Mrs. Zangari made an immediate impression and helped us to know that there was nothing to be nervous about,” said Madison. “I discovered something I hadn’t known in middle school, the revolutionary idea that math doesn’t have to be painful and full of confusing equations.”
Mrs. Zangari’s guidance, expert teaching skills, and zest for life helped Madison, and countless others, achieve success at Cushing. "Asking her to be my advisor has been one of the best decisions I have made at Cushing,” Madison said. “She has been in my corner and here for me every step of the way. She's our 'other mother' and for that, I can't thank her enough."
Upon acceptance of the award, Mrs. Zangari declared to the audience, "All of you guys are my kids for life! You'll always be in my heart and you're all so dear.”
Never one to let an opportunity to incorporate mathematics into her conversation slide, Mrs. Zangari concluded with her well-known “quick little math lesson” call and response.
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Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.