Surrounding Students with Learning

February 26, 2013 Updated Feb 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

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February 26, 2013 Updated Feb 26, 2013 at 12:34 PM EDT

East Aurora, N.Y. (WKBW) - When you enter the doors to Mary Jane Liszewski third grade classroom at Immaculate Conception Catholic School in East Aurora, you may think it is anything but ordinary.

"If we can teach our kids to use critical thinking skills and be creative, we will go a long way," Liszewski said.

Ms. Liszewski does just that by transforming her classroom according to her lessons.

"Every month we work with a different genre. Reading is everything because you use it in social studies, science and math," Liszewski said.

This month, it was the Mystery Genre and their classroom was turned into a detective bureau, the students into little investigators. Using this theme in all their subjects

"With the detective agency it is really fun. When we had open house we handed out business cards we made ourselves and we took everybody's finger prints with ink," student Madeline Howorth said.

The students get even more creative. They write plays, using vocabulary they learned. They also have a free write session. Amanda Kell discovered a hidden talent while taking on the detective role.

"To make a comic original series about a cat and dog who live together as roommates and go on crazy adventures," student Amanda Kell said.

Ms. Liszewski was recognized for her unique work with these students. She received the Sister Mary Lucille, RSM, Outstanding Teacher Award started by the late Tim Russert who was inspired by his teacher Sister Lucille.

"This award I received has been amazing and humbling but I wouldn't have received this award if people in my life hadn't made a difference. All those people who made a difference and their memory, I can make a difference," Liszewski said.

She had made a different in the lives of not just these students but thousands of others. Ms. Liszewski has been teaching for 35 years and has using this creative strategy since the beginning of her career.

"We truly have a sacred responsibility to be the best we can be and give the children the best education body mind and soul," Liszewski said.