Former Merokean wins top teaching honor

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Sena-Saputo said that when she teaches social studies to her 9-, 10- and 11-year-old students, she often does not use the textbook. “We try to do hands-on exercises,” Sena-Saputo said.

She gave an example of a lesson on the American Revolution in which she gives out M&M’s to her students, who are then required to hand back their candy pieces to simulate paying a “tax.” She said most of the students are disgruntled to lose their M&M’s — though by the end of the lesson, the children get to eat the candy — allowing them to comprehend the point of view of American colonists who fought back against “taxation without representation.”

Asked how she felt to be named the most “Outstanding Social Studies Teacher” of elementary school students in New York state, Sena-Saputo said, “It’s definitely an honor … you realize why it’s worth it that you put all your heart and soul into” teaching.

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