TEACHER FEATURE: Marlene Mazzella
Degrees and Certifications:
Job Title: Teacher
Number of Years in the District:
Name of College(s) and Degrees Held:
Concordia College – Bachelor of Science
Lehman College – Master’s in Literacy Education
Year of Graduation: 2001
What inspired you to pursue a career in education and why?
No one ever forgets a meaningful teacher that creates a lasting and meaningful impact, forever changing the course of their lives. Growing up in a rural town in Portugal, opportunity in general lacked. Fortunately, the teacher I came to know for the first four years of my early education planted the seeds for more, for a better life. Searching for a better life I moved to the US with my siblings to chase the American dream in the land of the unknown. Fortunately, I was able to find support through the educators of the Mount Vernon City School District. While the language was foreign, and the culture was new, their compassion was warm and familiar. Their continued efforts of positive impact showed me this land was filled with opportunity regardless of your economic status.
What lesson(s) or values do you strive to teach your students?
Growing up my parents taught me to seize every learning opportunity, as learning didn’t only happen in the classroom. Today, I strive to bring that message into the classroom. I teach persistence by giving children opportunities to succeed. I teach them the value of honesty and vulnerability by apologizing after a mistake and asking for feedback. I teach empathy by asking them to step into someone else’s shoes. I teach them about the importance of diversity and inclusion. They need to know that there are all kinds of people in this great big world. I teach them that it is okay to fail. I teach them to have high standards for themselves and to live up to those high standards.
What aspect of your job inspires you the most and why?
My students are the inspiration that leads me to do better, to learn more, to try harder, to come up with different ways, to go beyond. I have the opportunity to form student-teacher relationships that allow me to get to see students’ individual talents and strengths. I watch their eyes light up as they connect information. I enjoy watching them grow and change – from tears on their first day of school to group leaders by the end of the year.