How a teacher, ‘born to inspire others’, juggled the needs of students and her own children as the coronavirus raged

Editor’s Note: Staten Island Advance / SILive.com is proud to dedicate its annual Women of Achievement program, established in 1964 and celebrated annually since, to local heroes; we call it Staten Island Women of Achievement 2020 – The Front Line. When we called for nominations, we received many heartfelt words about these brave women, who have made such a difference in our community throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We are releasing parts of some of these nominations because they are the real voices of the impact of these real heroes. Congratulations to this Woman of Success 2020: Suzanne Fortuna-Paccione.

This nomination was submitted by Patricia Fortuna, the candidate’s sister

STATEN ISLAND, NY – I would like to name my sister, Suzanne Fortuna-Paccione. She is a fifth grade teacher at Our Lady Queen of Peace Elementary School in New Dorp.

I look at her, and I don’t know how she does it.

Documents to note, plans to complete, homework checked, dinner prepared (she is an excellent cook), time spent with family and reflection on her students and their families.

Then March arrives, and school breaks and distance learning begins with a 10-year-old girl, an 8-year-old girl with autism and students in her class.

“My own children have become my students. In no time, I became their teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist and physiotherapist all at the same time, ”Suzanne told Advance / SILive.com.

“Throughout this horrible pandemic, I have said to myself, ‘I was not born to teach. I was born to inspire others, to change people and never to give up ”, even in the face of challenges that seemed impossible. My children and my students have given me the strength every day to go through these most difficult and difficult times. ‘

Suzanne is pictured here with her sons.

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Bernice Dyer

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