The First-grade instructional program at Villa Maria Academy Lower School is committed to helping each…
- Who were your closest friends at Villa?
I came to Villa in 6th grade and graduated with 22 other girls. Since our class was so small, we were all friends. Meghan Frank O’Rourke, Amanda Bauer Weaver, Kelly Phillips Sellevaag, Kelly Ann Greisser and Caroline DiRita were some of my best friends. Our classmate Andrea Thompson who passed away in 1998 was a kind friend to all of us.
- What activities were you involved in during school (at Villa and outside of school–a job, volunteering, etc.)?
I tried cheerleading at Villa and since I was so small, they wanted me to be a flyer. I’m terrified of heights, so that didn’t last long! Instead, I became involved in music and art. I was a member of the choir, sang solos at Mass and in the Christmas and Spring Shows. I took piano lessons and played in the handbell choir.
- Which teacher/administrator/coach at Villa had the greatest impact on your life and why?
When I came to Villa, Mrs. Zaffarano was my homeroom and ELA teacher. She assigned one student as the Lady of the Day each morning. That student was allowed to share a special quote of their choosing on the board and did special jobs throughout the day. Sister Brian Michele was the art teacher and even held special Saturday art classes. I loved those Saturday classes. We used special supplies like oil paints, pastels and even carved something out of marble. Sister Michele also had a bunny name Alleluia Cotton. My friend Meghan got to take the bunny home over the summer!
- What were your favorite classes?
Of course, I enjoyed ELA, but I also really like Mrs. MacNeil’s Social Studies classes. She taught us all about World War II in 8th grade and in another unit, brought in a trader to help us better understand the stock market. It was cool because we chose stocks to “buy” and “sell” and we followed them for a time to see if we made successful trades.
- What is your greatest memory from your days at Villa?
I have so many great memories from lower Villa. One would have to be the Big Sister/Little Sister trip to the Zoo. It was even more special when my own daughter got to experience this tradition as a 1st and 8th grader in her time at Villa. I also have great memories of Mission Day from 8th grade. It was a lot of work but it was so much fun. Back then, the prizes for the Cake Walk were actual cakes! It was amazing to see tables full of baked treats! And when I went to Villa, the whole 8th grade worked together to create the yearbook. That was an awesome experience!
- If you could go back to your eighth-grade self and give some advice, what would it be?
If I could give my 8th grade self any advice, I think I would say, “Don’t put that you want to be an entertainment lawyer in the yearbook!” I don’t even think I knew what that meant! I wish I had figured out earlier that teaching was what I was meant to do.
- What advice do you have for our many students who plan to pursue a career as a teacher?
I would say to go for it! I would also suggest that if they have the option, they should student-teach in multiple grade levels. When I started out to become a teacher, I thought I wanted to teach 1st or 2nd grade, but I had the opportunity to student-teach in middle school and I loved it!
- Do you keep in touch with any of your Villa classmates or teachers? Anyone you want to send a shout out to?
I keep in touch with so many of my classmates. Social media makes it easy to keep up with who is where and living in Chester County helps because I often run in to people. Rosanna Catania Venuto was such a great support and comfort when my family was dealing with a medical issue and spending long hours at Chester County Hospital. Meghan Frank O’Rourke and I are still very close. In fact, I am the Godmother to two of her boys. I’d like to say a big hello to the Class of 1991!
- Why did you decide on a career in teaching?
After taking the LSATs and realizing that a lawyer was the very last thing I wanted to be, I looked back on my work experience and what I enjoyed most. I realized that in one way or another, I was always teaching, so I enrolled at West Chester University as soon as I graduated from Villanova.
- Describe a day in your career.
There is no typical day in the life of a teacher! On any given day, I am conferencing with students on writing projects, leading discussions on literature, and diving into the Old Testament and helping the students see how all of Salvation History points to Jesus. Teaching involves communication and collaboration. I am lucky to work with an amazing group of colleagues who make doing this tough job a bit easier!
- What is most rewarding about your career and calling?
The most rewarding part teaching for me is watching the students grow over the course of the year. It is a privilege to be a part of their educational journey.
- How did your time at VMALS influence your life?
In my time at Villa, I gained confidence and learned that it was cool to be smart!