Hands-on learning gets a new look for one classroom


Fourth-grade teacher Marcia Reidy at P..S. 24 Spuyten Duyvil has earned high praise from colleagues, parents and, perhaps most importantly, her students.

Reidy has been a teacher for 23 years with no end in sight. Recently, she’s inspired third-grade teacher Michelle Katz-Ruvolo, who has adopted some of Rediy’s philosophies in her own classroom.

Katz-Ruvolo said Reidy listens to her student’s ideas and allows them to think through problem solving because, for her, it isn’t about getting it right but getting students to think and be confident. These are methodologies Katz-Ruvolo has adopted in her own space with her kids, according to Reidy’s teaching style.

Another important part of Reidy’s classroom structure is hands-on learning. She uses a four-corners classroom game to engage students in math lessons in which each corner of the room is a different station and every student spends time completing equations, word problems, puzzles and more.

Katz-Ruvolo also credits Reidy with using concepts like Headbanz and escape rooms, all in the name of making learning fun and engaging.

For her part, Reidy said she doesn’t believe she’s doing anything special in her classrooms but said her teaching methodology combines elements of both art and science.

The science comes from her understanding of what knowledge her children should have by the end of the school year and the art is envisioning and creating different paths for all students to reach the same level of knowledge.

“I make it different for the kids, that’s the art part. You’re an artist, you create what they need. I’m not here to change them, I’m here to work with them,” Reidy said.

Each year, Reidy starts gaining her students’ trust because she believes, once they trust her, it makes them far more willing to follow an unconventional learning path.

“So, you can have 32 different things happening in your room at once even, though we’re all trying to reach the same standard. It’s organized chaos, that’s how I like to think of school,” Reidy said.

Prior to working at P.S. 24, Reidy worked in District 7, where she said the learning atmosphere was different. She said she performed a number of home visits there because children were far more independent, going home as opposed to staying for after-school programs. Children as young as nine would go home on their own, so Reidy made it a point to be the resource they did not have.

Reidy said a lot of the children from her years working in District 7 reach out to her on social media to see if she’s still teaching and chat about their time in her class.

She is often seen attending her students’ extracurricular activities as well, recently attending one student’s performance in the Riverdale Y’s musical production of Shrek Jr.

At home, Reidy has two teenagers but in the same way she structures her classroom, home has structure as well.

“We all do homework together, that’s the advantage of the hours of my job. I have time in the day that I can do that with my own kids,” Reidy said.

Sometimes sitting down to do homework together looks like her son hoping he can swap his geometry homework for grading her papers on fractions, but Reidy said this time is important for her so they can all reach the individual goals they have together.

Reidy wants her students to feel like they are her children as well.

“Each year, in my mind, they are the most important person to somebody, and that’s my perception, what would I want for my own kid,” Reidy said.

Katz-Ruvolo said it’s obvious Reidy is in the right profession. She said part of Reidy’s philosophy includes affirmations and helping children set up their own goals.

She then invites them into the learning process, which gives them ownership over their own development and goal achievement.

“She defines the true qualities of an educator,” Katz-Ruvolo said. “She has built up her students’ confidence and makes them love learning. Her celebration of the children is amazing.”

Reidy grew up in Riverdale in a home with eight siblings that often, to her, felt like a big schoolhouse, where she was consistently bossing someone around or teaching her siblings something new.

“I feel very lucky that I am someone who probably always knew what they wanted to do, some people spend a lifetime trying to figure it out,” Reidy said.

Marcia Reidy, P.S. 24 Spuyten Duyvil, fourth-grade teacher, innovative teaching, hands-on learning, student engagement, teaching methodology, Michelle Katz-Ruvolo, classroom strategies, education inspiration.