Coccia-Inserra Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Italian (K-12) - Application for the Year 2020

Apr 07, 2020 624

BY: Mary Ann Re

The Coccia-Inserra Award honors a teacher of Italian at the K-12 level, and is generously donated by Coccia Foundation in the name and memory of its founder, Cav. Joseph Coccia, Jr., and by Mr. Lawrence R. Inserra, Jr.

Founded in 1994 by Joseph and Elda Coccia, and now under the leadership of President Elisa Coccia, Coccia Foundation aggressively pursues the preservation and promotion of Italian culture, in conjunction with its ‘academic arm,’ the Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America at Montclair State University.

Mr. Inserra, Chairman and CEO of Inserra Supermarkets, Inc., also contributes significantly to the rich field of Italian American Studies, having instituted in 2011 the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, also housed at Montclair State University.

We are pleased to announce that our donors will be awarding a very generous prize of $5000 as the monetary component of the Coccia-Inserra Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Italian (K-12) for academic year 2020. These funds are to be allocated as follows:

a) $2500 is to be used exclusively to advance the Italian language and culture curriculum and programming within the recipient’s classroom;

b) $2500 is to be dedicated to the professional development of the winning teacher (for direct payment of academic fees to an institution of professional development in Italian language and culture at home or abroad).


The award is open to teachers who currently are:

a. Members in good standing of one of the following: i. AATI (American Association of Teachers of Italian); ii. AAIS (American Association of Italian Studies); iii. ITANJ (Italian Teachers Association of New Jersey)

b. The applicant must be a full-time language teacher who is certified as a teacher of Italian and who must be teaching a minimum of two classes of Italian at the K-12 level.

c. Applicants from past years are encouraged to reapply. If the application was submitted more than two years ago, however, applicants will be required to submit new, updated materials (including the video). Otherwise, applicants will be permitted to submit the same materials, with some additions regarding their recent activities.


A Blue Ribbon Panel of experts has been established to oversee the process and select the award recipient. Dr. Andrea Baldi, Professor of Italian, Rutgers University (New Brunswick, New Jersey) [Panel Chair]; Dr. Roberto Dolci, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Università per Stranieri di Perugia (Perugia, Italy); Dr. Annavaleria Guazzieri, Dirigente Scolastica, Consulate General of Italy in New York; Ida Nolemi Lanza, San Pedro High School, San Pedro, California (Retired); Recipient of the 2013 Coccia-Inserra Teaching Award; Dr. Mary Sisler, Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian, Hamilton College (Clinton, New York)


The Blue Ribbon Panel will evaluate participants on the following criteria:

a. Planning and Preparation. i. The teacher’s effectiveness as demonstrated in sample lesson plans that conform to the standards of the Department of Education or other such entity in the state in which the applicant teaches. The lesson plans should address oral and written communication. These plans should evidence: 1. goals and activities that inspire and engage students in their own learning; 2. use of technology and 21st-century skills to enhance the students’ learning experience; 3. assessment that reflects current practice.

b. Involvement Outside the School. i. The teacher’s leadership as demonstrated in ACTIVE involvement with professional organizations and the promotion of the Italian language and culture (e.g., presentations, workshops, administrative duties, public relations work) that have benefited the Italian program and its students; ii. Creating opportunities for community and/or parent participation in the Italian program (e.g., film night, festival), where parents and other community members are invited.

c. Instructional Innovations. i. Evidence of effective instruction practice via supervisor and/or principal’s classroom observation report; ii. Student comments/letters/etc.; iii. Teacher’s self-evaluation and reflections;
iv. Active participation in Professional Development events, in the capacity of either attendee or presenter, facilitator, workshop leader, etc.; v. Teachers must submit a video-recorded lesson or part thereof that is between 15 and 20 minutes in length. Videos must be uploaded to YouTube and privacy setting must be set to Private. The link will be sent to one (1) email address to be viewed by the panelists only []. The video will not be shared with or distributed to anyone beyond the panel for the award. Permission forms must be sent home if the School or the Board does not already have in place a policy about students appearing in promotional materials. vi. A description (not to exceed one page) of the video lesson the panel is viewing. Please tell us about the students, their level, and the learning goals for the lesson we are watching. This information will help the panel contextualize what they are watching.

IMPORTANT: The judges’ panel recognizes that given the extraordinary situation in which schools are operating since the coronavirus pandemic surfaced, it may be impossible for you to submit a video of yourself ‘in action’ in your classroom. In that case, the panel would ask that you submit a brief video (approximately five to ten minutes) introducing yourself, telling them a bit about your background, describing how you stayed connected with your students this semester, including your experiences transitioning to a virtual platform [to be submitted to]. Referring again to Eligibility ‘c’, however: If you are reapplying for the award, you may resubmit your video from either your 2018 or 2019 application.



Application Deadline: Friday, July 31, 2020. Note: All applications (text and video) must be submitted electronically to the following email address:

Award Presentation: Friday, October 23, 2020 at the professional development symposium: Teaching Italian: Symposium / Workshops for Instructional Materials. Meeting XIII (Montclair State University). Please note: The recipient’s travel and lodging expenses will be assumed by the Coccia-Inserra Award committee.

For a copy of the application or if you would like additional information, please feel free to contact Dr. Mary Ann Re, Director of the Coccia Institute, at or go to (if the link above isn’t working, you could just refer readers to the Coccia Institute’s website.)

SOURCE: Coccia Institute

You may be interested