[ Teaching & Learning ]
Stacey Anastacio, a member of the New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees, is a middle school reading teacher.

Why I teach

Stacey Anastacio


Being a teacher…
I had never put much thought into how I want my students to remember me. As a middle school reading teacher, too often I am stuck in the moment, concerned with how and what they learn in my class. Instead of wondering about my legacy, I focus on being creative and engaging in order to reach my students.

I truly love my students, and I hope they know that. Many will bring their friends by to introduce them to me, some will come and spend their lunch period with me, or visit me just to say hello several times throughout the day. I enjoy being home base for these kids. I am happy to be able to provide a space for them to come during lunchtime, so they can escape the hectic cafeteria or outdoor recess. Many of my students have tough circumstances, both in and out of school, and I like to provide a place where they can just be a kid.

I am lucky enough to receive multiple notes of thanks and praise throughout the school year from my students. But one of my greatest joys is when I get contacted by former students, often through the school email. Many of them write to ask me how I am, how my current students are, some will even ask about my own children. I’ve had several girls send me photos from their quinceañeras. One of my favorites was when a former student sent me his college graduation photo along with his graduation photo from eighth grade. I was so proud to see that he graduated from college. And yes, I am proud that he remembered me and wanted to share that moment with me.

This summer I had a former student, JA, contact me. I had taught him and his best friend sixth-grade ELA in the 2010–11 school year. He reached out via social media with the following message:

Hi Mrs. Anastacio! I’m not sure if you remember me but I had you as my English teacher back in 2010-11 along with VR. Unfortunately, V passed away and there will be a funeral for him this Saturday at ——— funeral home. It would be amazing if you could make it but we would completely understand if you could not.

These young men are now 24 years old. I taught them when they were 11 years old. It moved me beyond measure that this young man reached out to me to let me know of his friend’s passing and to ask me to come to the funeral. I remember these boys vividly. They were always together all through middle school, laughing and joking with huge smiles on their faces.

Seeing JA now, dressed in black with the saddest eyes I’ve seen in a long time, at V’s wake, was not something I was prepared for. I faltered, with a heavy heart. We embraced and shared some stories from middle school. I asked about other kids his age, and he reminded me of the names of those that greeted me at the wake.

I finally realize how I want my students to remember me. I want them to remember that I care about them, and not only for the 10 months that they are in my class. I will forever care for them and want to see them do well. I will also be there for them when things don’t go well, especially if they lose their best friend whom they met in my class 13 years earlier.

Being a teacher is much more than simply teaching. So much more.

letter icon

What’s your why?

Countless talking heads outside the classroom have a lot to say. We want to hear from you. Why did you choose the teaching profession — and why do you stay? Send submissions up to 450 words, along with a photo, to united@nysut.org.