Teacher Feature: Mrs. Pantaleo


During these times when it comes to our education where up is down and masks are the new norm, students have at least one constant comfort: teachers. Teachers are the composers and the students the musicians in the band we call school. Let’s take a look into our first teacher, our first composer in this series called Teacher Feature.

Mrs. Pantaleo is one of the Spanish teachers in our school. We discussed a few different topics in order to pull back the curtain a bit so we can see even a little about the real person, not just the person that grades our assignments and tests. When I asked her why she wanted to work as a Spanish teacher the answer surprised me. Mrs. Pantaleo said it started all the way back when she was 5 or 6 years old. As she grew up she had an aspiration to become a teacher and wanted to have those relationships with young adults. When I spoke with Mrs. Pantaleo you could feel how much she loves teaching, laughing and learning from her students everyday. She teaches something she thinks is valuable otherwise it is just a time waste.

Throughout our lives there will always be that person that we look up to or we look for guidance and learn from. Mrs. Pantaleo is no different but it was not an easy path to find that person she gelled with, “Not sure about mentors. I felt aimless in college.” She went to Boston University so it was a little more difficult but. Mrs. Pantaleo had a writing professor who she developed a relationship with. When she went to Rutgers for grad school she met Mrs. Mary Curran at Rutgers. She grew a strong relationship with Curran and was able to have Mary as a sounding board. Pantaleo still has that connection with Curran to this day.

According to the question regarding teaching methods asked of Senora Pantaleo, she responded by saying her class is what she wants to call ‘Spanish Kindergarten’. In her classroom, she uses a lot of pictures and gestures. Pantaleo says, “This is like a child learning something for the time”. She states that she constantly repeats herself. She wants her students to hear something first before seeing it when she is teaching. Pantaleo tends to do her teaching at the word and picture levels.

Mrs. Pantaleo was asked one question that got her struggling to answer. When asked where she would take her students around the world if she had the chance. She said was silent for a brief moment commenting on how tough a question that was. However, she later responded by saying she would take her students to Barcelona, Oaxaca during Dia de Los Muertos, and Machu Picchu in Peru. She thought of including an Urban, Holiday and a Country trip. She was trying to come up with just one but the few trips listed were the ones she couldn’t pick between.

During pre-COVID times we all have asked ourselves those out of the box questions that under any other circumstance would seem crazy. Unfortunately, times are different right now and asking a dream question seemed alright to ask. When Mrs. Pantaleo was asked what she would do If she won the lottery and decided to give up teaching, what she would do instead, Mrs. Pantaleo responded saying that it depends on the quantity of money. She wants to be like Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain was an American chef who prior to passing away in 2018 traveled the world tasting all different kinds of foods and learning various cultures. She wants to travel and taste food just as Mr. Bourdain. Mrs. Pantaleo also wants to volunteer and be a part of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Pantaleo then said that she wants to be a foster parent. Even though she already has a little boy at home, she feels she wants to expand her family to reflect her family history of having many step-moms and multiple step-siblings.

Mrs. Pantaleo loves teaching, loves her students and as her track record shows is an amazing teacher to get taught by. When we sit at our desks whether in the classroom or in our own home we never take a moment to realize that that person talking to us about a particular subject was once just like us.Teachers are the sum of their parts from their own family to their mentors, experiences and their students. Being able to pull the curtain back even for a minute to share with you a little about Mrs. Pantaleo hopefully can show that there are great mentors out there for each of us just like her.

Stay tuned for the next Teacher Feature….