As the son of two educators, Scott Freiberger said he always saw a career in education as a possibility.
“I definitely was guided well,” Freiberger, a Williston Park resident, said. “I learned tolerance for diverse perspectives and the importance of helping children to continually strive.”
Freiberger, now an English as a New Language teacher at P.S. 20Q John Bowne Elementary School of Global Studies in New York City, was named the 2018 Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Teacher of the Year.
The TESOL Teacher of the Year Award is presented by National Geographic Learning and was created to recognize and honor exceptional English language teachers at all levels.
Winners receive $1,000, a one-year TESOL membership and are invited to speak at the annual TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo.
Freiberger is a Herricks alumnus. His daughter, Elia, attends first grade at Center Street School.
Freiberger and his wife, Ariel, are active in the Herricks community – a tradition that dates back further in his family. Freiberger’s uncle, Norman, served as president of the district’s Board of Education and is honored on a plaque at the front of the Herricks Middle School auditorium.
Freiberger said the opportunities he received as a Herricks student helped him become a better person and teacher.
Freiberger said his Herricks education not only gave him “breadth and depth” in courses, but also allowed him to be involved in many different activities. He said he was able to explore different paths, including musical theater and sports.
“I definitely had a strong foundation in education from Herricks,” Freiberger said. “I would say Herricks helped me to become a more well-rounded individual.”
As an English as a New Language teacher, Freiberger said one of the challenges he faces is limited opportunities for his students to speak English outside of the classroom.
He said he tries to help parents realize the importance of bilingualism and speaking and teaching two cultures and two languages.
“I’m very involved with parent engagement and outreach to the community,” Freiberger said. “It’s an honor to use my language skills to connect with parents and guardians and help the community.”
Freiberger said he speaks six languages fairly well.
He first studied Spanish at Herricks and later delved into Chinese as an undergraduate at Queens College, he said.
From there, he began studying different languages including Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean, he said.
He’s currently learning Greek, he said.
“Something about studying languages appeals to me because I find myself able to connect with people on a more personal level,” Freiberger said. “It really helps in the classroom to spark students’ interest in the material because I’m able to explain things with high level vocabulary in different languages to help students better understand the material.”
Freiberger’s language skills help throughout school beyond the walls of his classroom, according to Victoria Rice, the principal at P.S. 20Q John Bowne Elementary School.
Rice said in a statement that Freiberger’s language skills “have been a valuable asset during parent/student events.”
Before going to P.S. 20Q John Bowne Elementary School, Freiberger did an internship at Mineola Public Schools.
Freiberger said he thanks Mineola Superintendent Michael Nagler, whom he said has a “good pulse on teaching and learning” and called a “phenomenal, visionary leader.”
“He looks for ways to infuse technology into classrooms, and knows you can have the most outstanding programs … but if you don’t have great teachers it’s all for naught,” Freiberger said.
In a statement, Nagler congratulated Freiberger on receiving the award.
“He did his administrative internship with me last summer and proved to be knowledgeable and creative,” Nagler said.
While at Mineola, Freiberger created a basic Mandarin online course for the district, Nagler said.
Freiberger recorded his voice so students are able to hear proper pronunciation for basic Mandarin phrases, Nagler said.
Freiberger said he’s fortunate for the “great guidance and sensational supervisory support” he’s received throughout his career.
“I currently work with a terrific team of dedicated teachers and supportive school leaders such as Principal Victoria Rice and Assistant Principal Patrick Foy at P.S. 20Q John Bowne Elementary School of Global Studies in New York City,” Freiberger said. “It is truly inspiring to collaborate with amazing administrators and terrific teachers who continually strive to improve all students’ lives.”
While Freiberger said he’s humbled to have received the TESOL honor, his proudest moments as an educator are when his students succeed.
He noted one experience when he submitted the work of a “shy yet industrious” English language learner to a writing contest.
He said his student placed first out of thousands of entries, and he was able to accompany her on stage to be recognized in front of educators and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
“Motivating young people to succeed continually inspires me,” Freiberger said. “My classroom is a haven for learning and actively encourages students … to see education as a springboard to a better life.”