EASTON, Conn. Landing a job at Samuel Staples Elementary School was like finding a Golden Ticket for third grade teacher Danielle Zingaro.
The competition is tough. Its hard to get a job right now, said Zingaro. I wanted the job so bad. I put everything I had into getting this job.
Zingaro had studied to become an art teacher. When she saw that Staples was a HOT School, which promotes strong arts courses and integrates arts into the classroom, she knew it was the perfect fit.
She received her bachelors degree from UMass-Amherst and her graduate degree from Fordham University. She spent a year teaching fifth grade in Milford and a year teaching fifth grade in Manhattan.
She realized after finishing her undergraduate degree that becoming an art teacher wasnt for her but would soon realize that teaching was her destiny. She and her sister, who were living in Massachusetts, quit their jobs and moved to an apartment in Manhattan. She worked as an assistant maitre d' at Tao Restaurant, where she met a million celebrities.
I felt so unfulfilled and so unhappy, said Zingaro, who also worked in marketing for a few years. I had a quarter-life crisis at 28. I decided teaching was for me, just not art.
So, she decided to pursue her graduate degree at Fordham. She said the management skills she gained during her journey in her 20s help her as a teacher.
Being in restaurant management and being an executive assistant helped me with multitasking. Being in charge of 10 people who will not eat unless I help them is kind of not that different [from teaching], said Zingaro.
She chose elementary education for her love of children and their silliness and wonderment.
I relate to children more than teenagers. I like being able to mold them, said Zingaro.
Her favorite moment this school year has been dancing with her students. I played the class song and, as soon as the music came on, they got up and started busting a move and I was, too, and they thought I was cool, said Zingaro. She said the fifth-graders she taught in previous years would say, Thats not cool.
She brings her talents as an artist into the classroom as well and recently had her students complete a self-portrait.
Zingaro arranged the desks in her classroom into groups, instead of rows, so the students can work in groups in a workshop setting.
Theres a lot of collaboration and exploration. They can choose where they sit I call it, Making a smart choice. The workshop allows them to learn from each other, and theres a lot of discussion and discourse, said Zingaro.
She said she enjoys teaching one class every subject. Theres more flexibility and its more fun, said Zingaro. "I enjoy that every hour Im doing something else. Its not repetitive."
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