[ Teaching & Learning ]

Why I teach

English teacher Cherie Gisondi is a member of the Carle Place Teachers Association in Nassau County on Long Island
Cherie Gisondi smiling in her classroom
When I was in third grade, I had the most wonderful teacher named Ellen Kramer at P.S. 108 in Queens. The first day I thought she was an angel from heaven. As an 8-year-old, I knew this year was going to be something special, and it was.

She introduced me to theater, music and how to escape into a book. She is adored by so many students. That particular year, our class seemed special, or she made it seem like we were, in our working-class neighborhood. I believed I could be and do whatever I set my mind to. Many of us went on to do great things; many of us are in creative fields. I would like to say it was because of her class.

I wanted to be like her, and I wanted kids to feel like I did in her class. I went on to have many great teachers and decided this was the path I would take.

I love acting, writing, reading, theater and music. It was only natural for me to choose English as my subject. I went to Queens College for my degrees. While there, I worked three jobs, and I took on a tutoring job at Townsend Harris High School during my break from classes.

I started teaching in 1991 at JHS 180 in Far Rockaway in Queens. There I spearheaded the drama club, directing musicals after school. I taught writing classes in the computer lab, and was one of the first teachers to have a Mac lab. I took to technology easily and always loved learning new ways to incorporate technology into my classroom. I still do!

From there, I went to JHS 226 in Jamaica, Queens. There I taught English, directed the musicals, ran the talent show, advised the yearbook and organized graduation. I loved that school, because it was near where I grew up and I felt connected to the kids. My classroom had four computers, and we won many computer contests for District 27. I loved teaching middle school and am a firm believer in the middle school concept.

I am currently in my 33rd year of teaching. I have been teaching English at Carle Place High School for the past 25 years and am a proud Frog. I directed the middle school musicals, advised the high school and middle school newspapers, was a liaison for Kidsday and was the advisor for the Culture Vultures.

I have taught with the best in the field, one of them being Andrea Macario, the reading teacher. I miss her every day, as she passed away several years ago. I carry her spirit with me every day.

I’ve dedicated my entire life to this profession. Many teachers miss their own children’s lives to teach. It’s just what we do.

It’s a challenging profession, but I know I make a difference. I feel like I’ve come full circle. Recently, I had lunch with my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Kramer, whom I now can call my friend.

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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 500 words, along with a photo, to united@nysut.org.