Recent alumna Melissa Mancuso continually reflects on the most rewarding part about being a teacher. Witnessing her students master a goal and succeed is the best part of the job. Attending STAC only helped Melissa realize she was on the right track: “I decided to pursue teaching because my entire life, others have been telling me I have a passion for working with children,” she said. Her academic courses such as Child Psychology, Exceptional Children, and Methods, solidified her reasons for wanting to become a teacher.
Now, working as a Teacher’s Assistant at Somers Central School District, Mancuso is excited to get her foot in the door with invaluable experience. The many obstacles faced during COVID-19 have challenged her to an alternative way of teaching students: “Because of COVID, each class is separated into two classrooms. My role is to work with the head teacher to plan lessons and alternate teaching these lessons to both classes while maintaining social distancing.” Despite the circumstances of COVID-19, Mancuso keeps moving forward: “the one thing helping me is being able to make sure each student receives one-on-one help with me and with the head teacher.” Ensuring students can learn as much as possible is still a priority while in a virtual classroom.
Mancuso’s time as an undergraduate in STAC’s School of Education helped her prepare for an exciting journey as an Educator. Part of the School of Education’s mission is to develop master teachers and leaders in their fields of study. Mancuso enjoyed the hands-on approach her program provided, as well as creating tutoring projects and lesson plans. She believes her undergraduate studies and mentors at the College helped prepare her for a career in education, she became familiar with the NYS standards and understanding the various components of a lesson plan. “When teaching a lesson to my classmates and having a video to reflect on, I was able to accept criticism from my professors and classmates that helped me become who I am now,” expressed Mancuso. While student teaching, Mancuso dove deeper into a curriculum, worked one-on-one with a teacher to write lesson plans, and taught students on her own. Mancuso has her professors at STAC to thank, she stated, “The professors at STAC were dedicated throughout my 4.5 years to help me pass the certification tests that brought me to where I am today.”
Mancuso is thankful for her STAC professors’ passion, commitment, and willingness to go above and beyond to help their students succeed. Having graduated from STAC in 2020 with a Bachelor’s in Childhood Education/Special Education (Grades 1-6), Mancuso intends to start her Masters in the fall of 2021 to continue Special Education, where she sees herself becoming a Special Education Teacher.
Mancuso believes she is succeeding during the difficulties brought on by the pandemic because she is doing everything she can to help her students and head teacher. Mancuso is also working on overcoming the challenge of explaining some concepts to her students as she stated, “at times, I find it difficult to explain my reasoning to the students in a way for them to understand.” Despite the challenges she’s overcoming, Mancuso also shared the most memorable experience in her first position: having the pleasure of teaching her cousin in the classroom. “It was unforgettable—I am so blessed to work with her and watch her grasp a concept I know she has struggled with.”
To best prepare for life after college, Mancuso shared some advice. “Build up your resume, apply for graduate school and jobs as soon as possible, and enjoy life to the fullest,” she stated. Mancuso wants to remind aspiring teachers not to stress the little things, and not to be discouraged if the day does not go exactly as planned, because there is always tomorrow to look forward to.
When she isn’t hard at work, Mancuso enjoys hockey, watching her favorite TV show One Tree Hill, and spending time with her 16-year-old dog.