TEACHER FEATURE: Michelle Battista
Degrees and Certifications:
Job Title: 6th Grade Teacher
Nelson Mandela Dr. Hosea Zollicoffer School
Number of Years in the District: 18-23 years as a Teacher
Name of College(s) and Degrees Held:
Manhattanville College:- Masters- in Reading K-12 with Writing extension
Manhattanville: BA – English Literature and Education – Common Branch n-6
Associates: WWC- Communications- Radio and Television
Year of Graduation:1996
What inspired you to pursue a career in education and why?
A product of the Mount Vernon educational system is where I developed my passion for learning and becoming a teacher. I had two very aspiring and influential women who had shown how being a teacher can make a difference in a child’s life. Ms. Pierce, a third-grade teacher at the original Columbus school, made my learning experience fun and enjoyable. She made children want to learn and allowed us to be creative. Ms. Sesay, a teacher at the former Davis Middle School, instilled my love for poetry and allowed me to take chances in my writing and helped me to understand how powerful words can be. As chance would have it, our paths would cross once more later in life. Ms. Sesay would be my Assistant Principal at Lincoln School. There, she saw the potential in me to inspire children as she once did for me.
What lesson(s) or values do you strive to teach your students? Please explain.
Be your students biggest advocate. Allow them to see their true potential. Many of our children are fearful of the unknown and fearful of failing. They must believe that with hard work and determination they can achieve whatever goal they set out for. Anyone can get started with something- Following through is the hardest part. Believe in them and in turn, they will believe in themselves.
How did your experience as a student influence your teaching style?
I went through the Mount Vernon School System. During my time at Mount Vernon High School I was fortunate enough to able to participate in many activities. I was in band, chorus, I was a Knightette, I wrote for The Oracle, and I took part in the great musical productions every year. Today working for The Mount Vernon School System allows me to take what I grew up with and pass it on to my students. Students need to be creative. It is not all about testing or the pen to the paper. Students need to explore their talents. As a student I was given that opportunity and I love the fact that I can give back to the community that has given me so much.
What aspect of your job inspires you the most and why?
What inspires me most are my students. I was once them. A first-generation daughter of immigrants, my mom always wanted to go to school. She would always tell us how lucky we were and how education meant opportunity. I can very much relate to many of my students today. I love that Mount Vernon has such a diverse community of scholars. Each of these students brings with them a rich culture that we can all learn from. Each day my students teach me something new. They are my heroes.