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Department of One: Signora Pirruccio Perfetta

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It can be difficult to teach one class on its own, but being in charge of teaching an series of classes alone can be challenging. EHHS Italian teacher, Mrs. Michelle Pirruccio is one of these teachers. 

Mrs. Pirruccio took over the Italian courses in February 2021, during the pandemic. Ever since she has been teaching Italian I, II, and III.  

EHHS Principal Mr. Vincent DeNuzzo talks about how the Italian “department” has been a department of one for several years. The previous Italian teacher was Mr. Matt Torrisi before Mrs. Pirruccio. Mr. DeNuzzo claims that during the hiring process what made Mrs. Pirruccio stand out from other candidates was that she had experience teaching at the college/university level and her experience with the language. She previously worked at Central Connecticut State University as an Italian professor. Mr. DeNuzzo said, “These characteristics hold a lot of value compared to someone who is fresh out of school. You are always looking for someone who has experience with the language, and with creating lesson plans, correction, creating assessments, and projects.” 

Mr. DeNuzzo believes Mrs. Pirruccio “is very diverse in her ability to go from teaching beginners Italian to teaching a class that has been taking Italian for 2 or 3 years. That is a skill, being able to meet students where they are at with the language. Which requires a lot of planning and careful assessment of students and what they know and she has done a really good job with that.” Mr. DeNuzzo believes that the diversity between the level of classes can be a challenge, but Mrs. Pirruccio is able to assess her students individually and has done well with it so far.

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Mrs. Pirruccio, who came to the United States from Italy more than 30 years ago, has been teaching for 28 years. She started off as a substitute teacher for a couple of schools until she was able to finally teach at a higher level. She later discovered her passion for teaching Italian culture and the language. Mrs. Pirruccio said, “I always liked the idea of being a teacher, but I wasn’t sure what kind of teacher. I was thinking about being an ESL teacher to help students who just came to the country, but I also love talking about my culture and it connects me to my country again.” She had been looking for a job specifically as only an Italian teacher when the spot at EHHS opened up. 

Mrs. Pirruccio was faced with a big change when transitioning to a high school after being at a university. She feels that in high school she has to be more involved in the students’ life than at a university. She says, “In college if they don’t do their work they have to face many consequences. High school is somewhat different.” However, she said that regardless of the big changes she was challenged with, she is happy with the people she works with. She says, “When I came here I saw the environment and I found a lot of nice people around me. I felt at home and they helped me adjust.” 

Mrs. Pirruccio opens up about the pro’s and con’s of being the only Italian teacher, and what inspires her to keep going. 

Mrs. Pirruccio expresses that there is a good and bad side to being the only Italian teacher. She says that one of the pro’s is that she can prepare her assignments according to her students and how they learn best. She says, “I like going at my own pace to make sure my students learn the material well. I can also implement what I think is good to create a strong foundation for my students because learning a new language is difficult. My kids are my priority so I go with the flow.” Mrs. Pirruccio also says that she enjoys watching her students grow up and see how the language grows with them. She says, “I also love being able to watch my students grow. I can’t do anything if they decide to leave my class, but I love having the same groups of students every year. I enjoy growing with them as well.”

Mrs. Pirruccio also talks about the issues that she has dealt with being the only Italian teacher. She talks about not having anyone to share her ideas, lesson plans and material with, and no one to receive new information from. She says, “sometimes I want to discuss things and I don’t have anyone to share these ideas with. I see the other teachers that teach the same language discussing what they want to teach or the differences they have in their teaching.” 

 

Mr. DeNuzzo expresses great interest in improving the Italian program. Although, he says that this depends on the students. If more students are interested in taking Italian then there would have to be some positive changes to be made. He says, “I would love to get the Italian program to the point where we have to hire another teacher, but that means more kids want to take it…The more the better, as we become more diverse as a nation having the ability to speak and understand different languages is only going to benefit them when they enter college or the workforce.”

Mrs. Pirruccio says that ‘she is satisfied with the way things are currently going for the Italian program. However, she is hoping to bring in new things such as books and field trips so her students can get a better understanding of Italian culture outside of the classroom.

 

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Sofia Calixto, Reporter
Junior Sofia Calixto works as a reporter for The Comet and a writer for the "Yellowjackets Astrology" at EHHS. She began working for the Comet during the 23-24 academic school year. She looks forward to sharing astrology news with EHHS!
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