Hats off to the winner of the Tim Russert Award in the Diocese of Buffalo for 2010 – Religion teacher Ms. Denise Amato!
Born and raised in California, Ms. Amato came to Ss. Peter & Paul School after 28 years of teaching in California Catholic schools. She accepted a position at our school in 2003 and teaches Religion 6 through 8 and Spanish PK through 5.
To call Ms. Amato a gifted teacher almost seems an understatement. She is so much more than a gifted teacher. Ms. Amato has served as a catechist; taught adult sacramental preparation classes; served as a spiritual facilitator for an adult lay associate program; acted as a choir director and guitarist on the parish level and as a Eucharistic Minister. Both in California and in Buffalo Ms. Amato has worked well with a wide variety of age groups and in varied ways. Whomever she touches is left enriched and spiritually lifted.
Our school is blessed to have Ms. Amato. She coordinates our weekly children’s liturgy and works with the students to prepare these Wednesday celebrations. She also helps with the preparation of various religious celebrations during the school year – paraliturgies, the eighth grade retreat,and prayer services.
Denise Amato treats every student with dignity. Each one of them knows that he or she is special after being enriched in many ways during one of her religion classes. She is gentle; she is kind; she is faith-filled; she is passionate about learning and teaching the Gospel; she is a role model of Catholic values to her young students.
Among her peers and in the community, Ms. Amato is a leader. She willingly assumes responsibility, usually without being asked. For example, on Saturdays she came into school to make fleece blankets for the veterans at Veterans’ Hospital. She and her group of student blanket makers worked on the project for two Saturdays and brought the blankets and their companionship to these needy men and women.
Denise Amato’s classroom is an exciting place. It is always immaculately clean, beautifully decorated, and where her students want to be. There, students pray; students question; students discover; and students learn.
What goes on in Denise Amato’s classes is much more than teaching. Ms. Amato helps her students open up the gift of faith that they were given at Baptism – a gift that they will cherish the rest of their lives.
One of her students from has said it best. “If there is anyone who could win (this) award it is you, Miss Amato. I am glad to see that all of your hard work and dedication is being recognized. I would also like to thank you for making Religion a wonderful class and a great learning experience…All of this year’s religion came easy to me because of your great teaching. Currently, I have a 100 average in both Religion and Spanish. I only learned from the best!”