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#PREPpeople: Nicole Zito
Posted 12/14/2018 11:55AM

One in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of St. John’s Prep

Nicole ZitoHOMETOWN: Storrs, Connecticut

EDUCATION: Diploma, E.O. Smith HS (1995); B.A. Latin, Haverford College (1999); M.A. in English Literature, Bread Loaf School of English—Middlebury College (2007); Ph.D. 6-12 Educational Administration, Boston College (2009)

YEARS AT ST. JOHN’S: 4

SUBJECT: Middle School English

FUN FACT: “At a train station, someone came up to me and asked me if I was Elaine from 'Seinfeld.' Not Julia Louis Dreyfus, but actually Elaine. I am not sure if that was a compliment. Recently, I started wearing reading glasses. My husband always starts doing Elaine’s thumb dance from ‘Seinfeld’ when I pull them out at a restaurant to read the menu.”

DESCRIBE A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP:I had two incredible Latin teachers during my middle and high school years. Both of these women inspired me to major in Latin at Haverford. I know from my own experience that I loved Latin as a class because of how much I appreciated the relationships that I had with these teachers. They were smart, kind, and respected me. They both had such passion for their discipline. I teach English now because literature is my true passion.”

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TEACH FOR A LIVING?:Initially, I just wanted to travel and coach soccer. In addition to teaching in Taipei [Taiwan’s capital city], I also taught in São Paulo, Brazil. Now, my reasons have changed. I see teaching literature as a way to help students rehearse moral decisions that they will make in their lives. I teach to make students more empathic adults.”

WHAT EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF ST. JOHN’S INFORMS YOUR WORK WITH STUDENTS AT THE PREP?:Being a parent and civically engaged citizen. I think that my own work as an elected member of the Ipswich School Committee and as a parent of two young children makes me realize how important an education is. I want to help shape young men who will make meaningful contributions to the world that our children will inherit.”

WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE EVERY DAY?:As middle school teachers, we witness such incredible growth. Also, middle school learners, in particular, are so game for taking academic risks and having fun. When I taught Latin at the start of my career, I got students to conjugate verbs wearing a large sombrero while dancing in partners. I like working with this age for the deep belly laughs.”

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