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In Focus: AMANDA MANNO, December '08

In December 2008, Amanda Manno received a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in elementary education and sociology, and plans to pursue a master’s degree in literacy studies this fall at Hofstra University.  The Bethpage, New York native enjoyed teaching students of all ages during her field placement work as a student-teacher last fall.

Why did you choose to attend Hofstra for your undergraduate degree?

I had two dreams when I was a child: to be a teacher and attend Hofstra. When I was younger my parents used to drive along Hempstead Turnpike, and as we drove under the pedestrian bridge, I would always tell them that when I was older I would be walking across the pedestrian bridge, just like the people I saw. When it was time to apply for colleges, it was a no-brainer that I was going to apply to Hofstra University. Along my educational path, I have had a great experience, especially in the School of Education, Health and Human Services. All the professors are very helpful and strived to make me the best educator I could be. After I graduated in December, I decided it was a great idea to go back to Hofstra to pursue literacy studies, because I knew that the professors at Hofstra are dedicated to providing the best education possible.

Did being the oldest sibling steer you toward teaching?

I have two younger sisters and two step-siblings. Between my middle sister and me, there is a five-year difference, and a nine-year difference between my youngest sister and me. I always wanted to play with my middle sister and teach her new things. By the time my youngest sister came along, I had already decided that I wanted to be a teacher and I used to play school with both of them. I felt like I was always able to teach my sisters whatever they wanted to know. When they had trouble in school and needed help with homework, I would be the one to help them because I always had the teaching instinct.

Tell us about teaching ballet and catechism and how those experiences influenced your teaching pursuit?

I have been dancing for 17 years and teaching ballet since I was in middle school. I started as a teacher’s assistant, but when I began my studies at Hofstra, I had the opportunity to also teach ballet. It was a great experience because I was able to do two things that I love − teach and dance.   Ironically, the owner of the dance school I teach at is also a Hofstra alumni.

As a child, my parents sent me to religion classes on Saturdays. As much as I loved learning about my religion, I never had an engaging teacher. I counted down the days until I would receive confirmation so that I wouldn’t have to attend classes anymore.  When my youngest sister was old enough to start religion class, she was very shy and I decided it would be a good idea to be the religion teacher for her that I never had.

Both of these experiences helped me realize at a young age that I had a natural talent for teaching. By the time I began the Elementary Education program at Hofstra, I had more experience in a classroom then most of my peers.

Did you encounter any inspiring faculty at Hofstra?

There were many professors that left a permanent impression on me, but the most inspirational professor at Hofstra, for me, was Associate Professor of curriculum and teaching Dr. Esther Fusco.  Not only did she help me realize my passion for literacy, but she also helped me open up as a person in the classroom. Before her class, I was very shy in my graduate classes at Hofstra. I would always get nervous when a professor called on me or when I needed to read out loud, but in her classroom, she made everyone feel like a family. She was not only our professor; but she was our motivator. She always cared about what was going on in her students’ lives.  Dr. Fusco pushed me to join ASCD (Association of Supervision Curriculum Development) and get involved in the School of Education, Health and Human Services at Hofstra. I even had the opportunity to study abroad in Italy with Dr. Fusco, which was an amazing experience.

Tell us about your role in ASCD.

Dr. Fusco introduced me to ASCD.  It is a great way to network and meet principals and superintendents from different school districts. Hofstra has its own chapter, headed by Dr. Fusco. During the 2008-2009 school year, I was the vice president of publicity on the Undergraduate Board. My role was to publicize the Hofstra chapter and help run different programs. Throughout the school year, we had several great programs. In the beginning of the fall semester, ASCD donated books to high-need school districts. All first-year students were asked to bring in one book to donate to the program. After collecting the books, we sorted and grouped the books by reading levels.
Another major program we had this year was Jump-Start for Reading. This was a one-day event that schools across the nation participated in. This year, Hofstra students had the opportunity to get involved in this very exciting program in which you read a selected book to students on a particular day. Last year’s selected book was Corduroy. We sold the books in the lobby of Hagedorn Hall, and education students signed up to read to a class on October 8, 2008. Hofstra students also bought the book so they could donate it to the classrooms they read in.

What inspires you most about teaching?

I love the idea of being an educator of tomorrow’s future. I have the chance to pass all my knowledge and experiences onto the next generation.  I have the ability to pass on the need to acquire and use knowledge to make the world a better place. Just like I had inspirational teachers and professors along the way, I hope that I can one day be an inspirational teacher to my students. I feel like I have the opportunity to shape the lives of the students in my classroom, and to me, that is enough satisfaction for any teacher.

Amanda Manno