I love school. I have always loved school. Middle school and college were horrible, but elementary school and high school were fabulous. I loved High School! No, I wasn't the Home Coming Queen or the star soccer player. I was a pretty average teenager, maybe a little bit more boy crazy than most.
What made my experience extraordinary was the school, St. Johnsbury Academy is a day and boarding school in Vermont. Having grown up in Vermont, I had little opportunity to experience people from other cultures. I had gone to school with the same twenty-five or so kids my entire school career. I remember my middle school guidance counselor telling me that I would "blossom" once I was at the Academy. I did!
The Academy community is steeped in tradition open to creativity and innovation. Being at the Academy is like being at home and in the world at the same time. My classmates were from Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Spain, and Bermuda. What an opportunity for a girl from small town Vermont to meet others from all across the world. I soaked in any opportunity to befriend fellow students from other countries.
I had many amazing teachers in high school. One of my most memorable teachers was Mrs. Carol Zuccaro. Mrs. Zuccaro was my tenth grade English teacher. I remember her as a small woman with a warm personality and a honey sweet voice. She treated everyone warmth and respect. I remember how she encouraged me in my writing. No matter how outrageous an idea I would have, she would always be available to help flesh it out.
Many projects still stick in my mind as extraordinary, even thirteen years later. We had just finished reading Oedipus and our class was given a challenge. We were to re-write the legend and then later perform it in the school's amphitheatre. My classmates worked diligently at our task. We worked together to creatively rework the old language while still keeping the integrity of the legend intact. We worked on costumes and set pieces. Everyone did their fair share. It was team work in action! I don't remember Mrs. Zuccaro micro-managing us. She kept silent, and let us take the project in the direction we wanted. She offered assistance and provided us with references. An outstanding teachers provides tools and opportunities to help you soar!
Another project I remember was the opportunity to be pen pals with a classroom of students from New Mexico. In 1996, the Internet was just beginning to emerge in our tiny community. Communicating with students across the country on the computer was fascinating to me. The Internet is still fascinating to me! Mrs.Zuccaro helped stoke the fires of my interest in other cultures. She is the reason why I went to school for travel and hospitality.
After college, I returned to the Academy to work. I once again got the opportunity to experience her sincerity and her genuine thirst for life and knowledge. I deeply wanted the opportunity to thank Mrs. Zuccaro for being such an inspiration. One day during a break, I headed down to the local flower shop to pick up some roses and a card. I don't remember what I wrote in the card. I do know that I didn't sign my name. I left the flowers outside of her classroom door. A few of the students in her class saw me leaving l the flowers. Through the grapevine I heard that she thought her husband or her priest must have left the flowers for her. It tickles me to have that little secret.
Each week, as I share books with hundreds of students I strive to be a warm, caring, and encouraging influence. I hope to inspire my students to greatness in the way that Mrs. Zuccaro has inspired me!