At the time of her award, Jayda Pugliese was a fifth-grade science and math teacher in Philadelphia's Andrew Jackson School. She consistently raised the bar for her students and used technology to keep them fully engaged. More than 80% of Pugliese's students showed at least one year's growth in math skills, and many of her students worked above grade level due to her innovative interventions.
Pugliese's STEAM-focused classroom was well-equipped. Through DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding website where companies and individuals contribute funds to buy supplies for public schools, Pugliese ran successful campaigns that brought her students a 3D printer, microscopes, and "snap circuits" to study electricity. The fifth-graders used their 3D printer to design products, write business plans and present their ideas for their classroom "company." Pugliese wrote a successful application for a competitive grant for blended learning, a mix of online and face-to-face interaction. She trained and monitored the faculty at Andrew Jackson as the blended learning program is implemented.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities as the go-to expert in blended learning, Pugliese was the chair for her grade band and a Professional Learning Community leader. With a background in teaching gymnastics, she founded the HYPE (Healthy Youth, Positive Energy) after-school program at the school, which was named the best in the city. Students look up to her, colleagues respect her, and parents get involved in her programs.
In July 2018, Jayda Pugliese began her tenure as an elementary school principal at St. Mary Interparochial School in Philadelphia, PA.
In addition to her role as a teacher and leader, Pugliese provides professional development districtwide in technology integration and working with diverse student populations. She was a board member of her local TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) affiliate and was recently named Vice President, she served on the teacher advisory council for the Philadelphia Zoo and has written about technology for LifeHack.org.
Pugliese has multiple certifications and has taught both regular and special education classes in Philadelphia. Before het time at Andrew Jackson, she served as a classroom teacher, technology director, and coordinator of the K-12 ESL and special education programs at ASPIRA Bilingual Charter School. She spent three years teaching seventh and eighth grade math and special education at Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School. In high school, Pugliese, who is hearing-impaired, organized a sign language club at her school and tutored students at a local school for the deaf; as a teacher, she relates well to students with disabilities and teaches compassion and understanding to all her students. Pugliese grew up in south Philadelphia and is the first in her family to graduate from high school and earn a college degree.
Pugliese earned a Bachelor of Arts in special education and elementary education and a master's in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and literacy from Holy Family University; she expects to earn an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Administration there in 2019. Pugliese began teaching at Holy Family in 2016 as an adjunct instructor.
Press release: Full STEAM Ahead: Philadelphia Science and Math Teacher First in Nation to Receive 2016-17 Milken Educator Award, $25,000 Cash Prize