New Rochelle Alumna Honored in 'Live with Kelly and Michael' Top Teacher Search


Teacher Ann Marie Rooney, a graduate of the School of Arts & Sciences and Graduate School, was honored during Top Teacher Week on "Live with Kelly & Michael" Wednesday, May 1, for her work with special needs children at William B. Ward Elementary School in New Rochelle.

Rooney is one of five finalists on the TV show's annual nationwide Top Teacher Search, nominated by Timothy Bavosa, father of Timothy, a 7-year-old with autism. The show visited New Rochelle and filmed Rooney in action with her students.

"She teaches them that it is never too late to change the story of their lives," said host Kelly Ripa.

"From day one, Mrs. Rooney has been an absolute angel," Bavosa said. Before joining her classroom, Timothy couldn't be restrained. "He was throwing chairs, he was throwing desks," Bavosa said. Timothy had gone through three different schools before coming to Ward. He couldn't read, write, or even hold a pencil. He didn't even like to be touched by his parents. "Heartbreaking," Bavosa said. "Absolutely heartbreaking."

"He was difficult to manage," said Rooney. If he wasn't emotional or angry, he was withdrawn. Timothy has made so much progress since then. "I couldn't be more proud of him," Rooney said.

Bavosa said one of Rooney's strengths is that she doesn't get flustered. "She calms them down because she's so calm herself." Bavosa was not alone in singing Rooney's praises. Three other parents talked about the difference the teacher has made in their children's lives, including one whose son was away at college.

"These kids ... I love them," Rooney said. "I see right through their behaviors right to the heart of them. That's my role -- to understand them and what it is that's their roadblock."

In addition to the award, the show promised Rooney a backyard renovation, and a new playground for her school.