What do you do in the Burlington School District?
I teach students English, grades 9, 11, and 12. I'm particularly fond of the class I introduced here, Spotlighting Justice, which focuses around using text and media to explore and understand social justice and the students' place in the world today.
How long have you worked for BSD?
I am about to start my 4th year at BHS.
How long have you been in the field of education?
In the realm of education, I will be starting my 6th year.
When did you know you wanted teach?
I knew I wanted to teach when I started to make connections with youth in the Syracuse City School District. Seeing students connect with my similar upbringing was life changing .
Tell us about one success in teaching. What is one proud moment?
One proud moment was when I was able to implement my social justice class at BHS.
What would your students say they had learned after spending a year in your class?
My students would say that they've learned a lot about what it means to be human and how far kindness can go. Often times, (per feedback forms), my students would say they learned a lot about privilege, what it means and how they fit in on the "scale" of privilege.
What is one thing that people don't generally know about you?
I listen to literally all genres of music. (Even country...I know).
What do you do outside of school?
I hang out with my pugs, cook for my fiancee, and play video games.
What other (non-teaching) jobs have you had?
When I was in high school and college, I used to work at Olde Time Photo at Canobie Lake Park. I would dress people up in period costumes, take their pictures, edit them and sell the picture at a ridiculous amusement park price.
What’s one thing you would like to see happen to make Burlington Schools a better place for students to learn?
More frequent, effective, varied, and mandatory cultural competency workshops/classes.
Alice Patalano has been a first grade teacher in the Burlington School District since 2001. She has been teaching at Champlain Elementary School for the last year and before that taught at the Integrated Arts Academy. Prior to teaching in Burlington, Alice was the team leader for an integrated preschool program for five years in Massachusetts and brought the program to NAEYC accreditation.
When did you decide to become a teacher and why did you choose this field?
I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was a kid, I used to line up the kids in my neighborhood and teach them. I really love teaching kids to read. I love watching that process unfold. It’s wonderful to watch kids transform from feeling like they can’t do something and giving them the skills so they feel confident. Taking them from not knowing some of their letters to reading on their own… and some of them even reading chapter books.
What do you like best about teaching?
So, I think its setting the environment and the tone of the classroom, so that kids feel a real sense of belonging and feel safe and know that their learning styles are going to be honored. Making it a place where they can make choices for themselves, so they feel empowered in their learning. I really strongly believe that it's not just about benchmarks and standards, but it’s about promoting social skills and social growth. If kids are motivated, they will learn.
What would students say they had learned after spending a year in your class?
That’s something I ask my students every year and they usually say “I feel really good about myself as a reader.” And it’s just finding that individual key and unlocking the magic for them and giving them the skills and scaffolding so that they can become a confident reader. And it opens so many doors. I think that’s what first grade is about, opening doors and letting them see the world around them, discovering.
How do your friends describe you?
They’d say I’m organized, reflective, straight-forward, energetic, upbeat, and supportive. And that I’m an independent thinker.
What’s special about teaching in Burlington?
What’s special about Burlington is the diverse community of learners and the opportunities and challenges that brings. The teachers are great at supporting each other and our colleagueship helps us meet the challenges.
What do you do outside of school?
I play bocce on a team. I read and hang out with family. I like to travel. I like to cook and I love anything Italian.