#whyIteach ~ Featured Fellow: Gisella Mancini

O'Shaughnessy Fellow Gisella Mancini is our Featured Fellow for our June newsletter. As a veteran teacher in South Bend Catholic schools, she has a wealth of knowledge to share!

Why do you love teaching?

Teaching is a joy that I am blessed to have been able to make a career of throughout my entire life.  Each day brings a new challenge, new ideas, new concepts to teach.  No day is the same.  I love teaching because I love working with children no matter what age range or at what level they come into my classroom.  Each student brings with them joys, questions, concerns and ideas that need to be addressed and discussed.  One part of teaching, that is my favorite, is when students take what they have learned and adapt it to their own lives.  When the concept you are teaching clicks and they bring it to life -- that is amazing.  It is very rewarding watching them grow and learn through small steps each day throughout the school year.  

What motivates you as an educator?

As enjoyable as the moment is when the students catch on to what is being taught. My motivation in teaching is working with the students who struggle in school.  Discovering ways to help them master concepts that help them improve their reading, math and writing skills is as exciting for me as it is for them.  Finding various ways for students to practice and learn concepts that frustrate them is what teaching is all about.  Helping students grow and learn to be able to use the skills taught in the classroom and adapt them to their daily lives is what motivates me in my daily teaching. I love teaching my students, but I also love learning from them and growing as a teacher to be a more effective teacher for them to better themselves.  

What advice would you offer new teachers?

As I think of all the new teachers entering this wonderful profession, that I have been so blessed to be a part of these last thirty years I think of what advice I could offer them.  The one bit of advice that I have to offer and that has helped me through many great days and tough days is to be flexible.  Flexibility is key throughout any day.  There are times when students get so involved in the lesson it is hard to stop the excitement.  Being flexible helps you guide the students through lessons that are being taught or frustration that is being met because of not understanding concepts being presented.  It helps you be in touch with your class and understand their needs, as well as present the skills they need to learn.  

Do you have suggestions for summer reading?

Our Pastor, at our last class Mass, mentioned that he used to challenge the students of the school by helping to encourage them to keep reading throughout the summer.  His challenge would be to keep up with him and read a book a week.  As I venture into the summer months I am excited to begin reading again for enjoyment.  A few months ago we lost a beloved and amazing author Beverly Cleary. This summer my reading list will include the Ramona series.  I am excited to remember this amazing author through this funny and entertaining series about Ramona Quimby. I hope everyone will get a chance to read and be entertained by Ramona this summer.

What are your hopes for the 2021-22 school year? 

My hope and dreams for the 2021-2022 school year is to be back to normal.  I am very eager to work with small groups, as well as have students share thoughts and ideas to help them learn through each other. I am excited to offer opportunities that we missed out on through this last school year.  I am looking forward to engaging in STEM based activities, as well as field trips and presenters visiting our building.  I am excited to watch a new set of students blossom and grow into third graders and develop and learn new skills throughout the school year.  I am excited to teach new students and share with them the love of learning through the school year.