December 6, 2023

Milwaukee Italian Immersion School Teacher Wins Prestigious Award

Milwaukee Italian Immersion School Teacher Wins Prestigious Award Featured Image

Milwaukee Victory and Italian Immersion School first and second grade teacher Enrica Fracchia-Miller has won the 2023 Coccia-Inserra Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Italian.

The award committee based its decision on reviews of Fracchia-Miller’s lesson plans and video of her teaching in the classroom. The award typically is given to someone who teaches Italian as a second language, but at the immersion school, Italian is the primary language.

Fracchia-Miller, a native speaker of Italian, has been a teacher for 31 years. The majority of that time was in Italy, teaching English to middle schoolers. She grew up in a small town in the Italian region of Liguria, moving to the United States 12 years ago.

Fracchia-Miller said the best part of her job is watching her students advance as speakers of Italian and grow as people.

“I feel guilty if I have to take a day off because I cannot spend time with them,” Fracchia-Miller said. “They keep me young and motivated to always learn something new and improve my teaching. The program I teach is unique in the U.S. and I’ve been teaching first grade for eight years. Part of my job is to create my first-grade curriculum and I keep tailoring it to my students’ needs, year by year. The students are therefore exposed to a very different experience of learning. They learn to read, write, and communicate in the target language before their native language. Students in an immersion program or bilingual schools have the opportunity to expand their horizons and become citizens of the world for real.”

Fracchia-Miller thanked her students for providing her with the motivation and the opportunity to constantly improve her practice.

“Looking at them growing and improving their skills in learning, and their social and emotional skills are what I like the most,” Fracchia-Miller said. “I have amazing colleagues and administration here at Victory and I’m very proud to be the elected building rep of such an amazing school but my students are the motor! I’ve been a teacher for 31 years in total, 21 years in Italy where I was teaching English as a world language, and 10 years for MPS and I still love my job and the long-lasting relationships I establish with my students.”

The Coccia-Inserra award, which was presented to Fracchia-Miller in October at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, was established by the Coccia family and Lawrence Inserra Jr. The Coccia Institute at Montclair State University works to promote Italian and Italian-American culture. The Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies also is based at Montclair State University.

The award comes with a $5,000 prize. Of that, half is intended to be used in the classroom and the other half is for personal professional development.