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In Focus: Jenna Rinaldi

What made you choose your major?
At first I was unsure of what I wanted to teach, but I always knew I would be a teacher. Hofstra’s School of Education has the best reputation across Long Island and I knew that I wanted to be a part of this reputable experience. It was actually while sitting in a statistics class and doodling Disney characters that I realized that I had to pursue art ed. Soon after, I declared my major and was thrilled to begin my journey within Hofstra’s fine arts education program.

Have you always known you wanted to be a teacher?
I always find this hard to put into words. Simply, I believe that I am a born teacher. The passion and love I have for being an educator exceeds my duties in the classroom. Whether it is in the classroom, assisting students with after school help, or on the field coaching, it is my job to always be a positive influence to my students.  Because of my experience as a student and having worked with such great influential educators who supported me like no other, it is because of them I am where I am today (ironically as their colleagues).  It is an honor that thus far I have succeeded and am still looking to grow as an educator. I would choose no other journey to be a part of!

Tell us about your unique position in the Wantagh School District.
I am currently teaching art in grades 1, 2, 5, and 7. I travel to several different schools a week between elementary and secondary. I believe that this is a great start as I am working with several grades in multiple schools. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and this first step in my career. As well as working at Wantagh, I am a club advisor for the Olympics of the Visual Arts (OVA) club sponsored by the New York State Art Teachers Association at Farmingdale High School. OVA is a competitive art program where students participate in solving a long-term creative problem. The culmination of this extracurricular program is a seasonal statewide competition in Saratoga, NY.

Hofstra’s program helped me prepare immensely for the teaching world. My education and art classes at Hofstra provided me with knowledge that helped me gain professionalism as well networking, networking and more networking! My professors were always willing to share info when they heard about open positions. This helped me gain experience with interviews, job applications, and the most appropriate places to search for desired jobs. 

What was it like working with Hofstra faculty?
Majoring in Fine Arts Education, I benefited greatly from working intimately with the faculty in the School of Education and the Department of Fine Arts, Design and Art History. I believe that through this experience I have learned how to be the best educator and artist.  From presenting portfolios to mock interviews, my professors gave me the best experience as I entered the real world. My student teaching experience at Hofstra also provided me with “real life” experiences. My professors always looked out for my best interests and provided me with the guidance needed. I was never just a number in their classes.

What advice do you have for future teachers?
Advice for future teachers… NEVER GIVE UP! I always tell myself…
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And “Being a new teacher is like trying to fly an airplane while building it.”

What are your goals for the future? 
I am hoping to continue my education in art. Because I believe that I am an educator first and an artist second, I would love to grow even further as an artist. I believe that I can apply these skills within my classroom, providing my students with the best knowledge in art. I would also love to continue teaching on Long Island. It is my goal to provide my students with the best experience in school and in art. My job as an educator exceeds my duties in the classroom. I hope to coach teams, run extracurricular activities, and overall be an important asset and influence in the lives of my students.

Jenna Rinaldi

B.S.Ed. in Fine Arts Education ‘13
Wantagh, NY