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Hicksville teacher awarded Fulbright-sponsored trip to Peru

Phillip Moshoyannis teaches his class at Lee Ave.

Phillip Moshoyannis teaches his class at Lee Ave. Elementary school in Hicksville on the afternoon of March 26, 2018. Phillip was just awarded a Fulbright for a year in Peru aimed at helping him teach from an international perspective. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Phillip Moshoyannis, now in his 23rd year of teaching at a Hicksville elementary school, has found a way of adding extra zip to his educational career — a yearlong training program in international instruction, with all expenses paid by the U.S. Department of State.

Moshoyannis, 49, is among 76 teachers selected nationwide from 477 candidates as Fulbright Teachers for the agency’s Global Classrooms Program. Sixteen of those teachers, Moshoyannis included, will spend three weeks in Peru starting June 19, observing classrooms and touring a country where the geographic diversity ranges from Amazon rain forests to Andean mountain heights.

“I’m nearly 50 years old, and it really reinvigorated me,” said the veteran instructor, who teaches 21 fourth-graders at Hicksville’s Lee Avenue Elementary School and marks his birthday on Friday. “It gives me a chance to think about how to work cooperatively with international counterparts.”

Moshoyannis is one of four teachers from New York State, and the only one from Long Island, selected for the annual national program. New York State United Teachers, a statewide union umbrella group based in Albany, saluted the quartet in a news release issued Monday.

Moshoyannis once served as a vice-president of Hicksville’s teachers union.

“Highly skilled educators like these four teachers can empower students as global citizens, and bring an international perspective to their schools,” Andy Pallotta, president of NYSUT, said in a prepared statement.

Colleagues who know Moshoyannis well described him as a man who needs little outside motivation.

“Dynamic, he’s full of life,” said Stephanie Stam, who has spent nine years as Lee Avenue School’s principal. “Very worldly, because he’s experienced a lot. He brings that into the classroom. The kids just eat up his stories. They get top-notch scores, too.”

Moshoyannis, in a phone interview, recalled developing a fascination with the way people live in other parts of the world when he spent several years as a child in his father’s ancestral village outside of Athens, Greece. Decades later, as a National Guard officer, he and his troops helped patrol the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, shortly after its towers were leveled by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Fulbright Program, founded in 1946 and federally funded, provides a variety of grants and scholarships for teachers, students and others involved in international exchanges.

One branch of the program, Teachers for Global Classrooms, funds professional training for classroom teachers stretching over a year. Training includes online instruction that teachers take part time while continuing their regular work in classrooms, a three-day symposium in Washington, D.C., and travel abroad.

This year’s travel sites, in addition to Peru, include Senegal, Morocco and Indonesia. Moshoyannis is one of 16 elementary teachers selected for trips; 60 secondary teachers will also participate.

Lee Avenue School’s representative said he plans to ask his Peruvian counterparts what they teach students about the diverse environment of their own country, and what they need to do to protect it. Moshoyannis also hopes to bring back some new ideas for his own students.

“Basically,” he said, “I hope they will have a love of going out and exploring and seeing what the world is like firsthand.”

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