An Interview with Elementary School Teacher and Theater Teacher, Kristy Giovannitti

An Interview with Elementary School Teacher and Theater Teacher, Kristy Giovannitti

Kristy Giovannitti's love for children plus her enjoyment of creativity led to an education and career in elementary education. The Penn, Pennsylvania, native had an early affinity and association with education, and looked up to an uncle who was an educator. She chose a private liberal arts college known for its high-quality education department within commuting distance: Seton Hill College (now Seton Hill University) in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

At Seton Hill, Ms. Giovannitti pursued a degree in day care administration and elementary-education and early-childhood certifications. Her education included time tutoring middle school students and classroom observations. Dual certifications required a student-teaching commitment beyond most education majors; but Ms. Giovannitti reports student teaching not only provided the credits needed to graduate but also gave her an "eye-opening" turn at being in charge in a classroom.

After earning her bachelor's degree from Seton Hill, Ms. Giovannitti worked as a substitute with her own school system, the Penn-Trafford school district. Currently, she is a full-time first-grade teacher in the district working towards a master's degree. Some time out between classes offers her insight into teaching education and careers and details on her experiences.

Kristy Giovannitti & Her Career

What inspired you to teach? How long have you known you wanted to teach?

I have always had a love for children, and I admired my uncle who was a teacher and principal.

Tell us about your teaching career choice. Why did you choose elementary education?

I am elementary and early childhood certified because I have always had a love for children, and I feel that teaching elementary allows you to be very creative. I have taught sixth grade, third grade, and first grade.

What do you enjoy about your career?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing how the children learn and grow over one year with me.

What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future?

I would like to continue to take classes to get my master's degree - I only need three more.

Education Information & Insights

Tell us about your education in the field of teaching and why you chose the school you did.

I graduated from Seton Hill College with a degree in day care administration with elementary and early childhood certifications. Seton Hill is very close to where I grew up and I was able to live at home. I also knew that they had a very good education department.

What factors should prospective education students consider when choosing a school?

They should take a close look at their education department and talk to some current education students. It is very important to also make sure that the college is a right fit for you individually.

Describe the 'hands-on' phases of your teaching education.

I was required to tutor students at the middle school level and spend 12 hours observing in a classroom prior to student teaching. During student teaching, I had two placements because of my dual certifications. I spent half a semester in second grade and the other half in fifth grade.

How well did college prepare you for life in the classroom?

I feel that I got a lot of good ideas from my method classes - many of which I still use today. Student teaching is the real eye opener because you see what it is like to be up in front of the students and you are "in charge."

In retrospect, what do you know now that you wish you knew before you began to pursue your education in the field of teaching?

I wish I would have had a more solid background in special education, and had spent a little more time in the classroom.

What types of continuing education requirements should teachers expect once they graduate and land a job?

You are required to have 24 post-grad credits within six years (after you have a permanent job) to get your level II certification (in Pennsylvania). Without it, you will lose your certificate. We also are required to get 180 Act 48 hours within five years of graduating from college.

Teaching Information, Trends & Advice

Describe a typical day of work for you. What exactly do you do? What are your key responsibilities? On a basic level, what skills does your job demand?

When I get to school in the morning around 8 a.m, I have a 30 minute prep to get ready for the kids. The kids start coming in about 8:30 a.m. I usually teach reading all morning until lunch at 11:50. We have a 30 minute duty-free lunch and then we have recess. If we have recess inside, I pick my kids up and we have recess in the room, but if it is nice outside, the other teachers and I rotate who goes outside for recess duty. After recess, I teach math and finish up anything else that we didn't get finished in the morning. Four days a week, I have an extra 30 minute prep period while my kids are at art, music, gym, and library. At the end of every day, I am responsible for getting the kids packed up and on the correct buses.

What are some common myths about your profession?

That we have it easy because we have summers off.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

Working with lower level/special ededucation students is very challenging. Dealing with parents can also be very stressful.

What are the hottest teaching specialties?

Right now special education and reading specialists are greatly in demand.

What are the best ways to get a job in teaching?

Substitute teaching is the very best way to work your way into a school district.

What are some of the top challenges facing teachers over the next decade?

Inclusion is quite a challenge and will continue to be with the growing number of special ed students. Standardized tests are also a big thing and will continue to be.

In Closing

Do you feel that is important for someone to be passionate about the teaching profession or children in order to be successful?

Without a doubt. My job can be very stressful, and if I wasn't passionate about it, I don't think I would be able to handle it.

Editor's Note: If you would like to follow-up with Kristy Giovannitti personally about this interview, click here.

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