Stacie D'Antonio EDL '10
Throughout her career in education, Stacie D'Antonio EDL '10 has challenged herself to learn and improve as an educator and continue to grow in her career.
D'Antonio spent 19 years as an educator in the Hamden public school system before accepting a position as principal of Polk Elementary School in Watertown, Conn., in July 2012. She started her career as a behavior monitor in the cafeteria, worked her way up to classroom instruction and then spent 10 years as a math and then literacy specialist. Her goal was always to become an administrator.
"I knew from working with many people over the years that I wanted to be a principal," says D'Antonio. "I felt like I was a leader."
One of the ways D'Antonio achieved her goal was by addressing areas where she needed improvement. "I knew my weakness was in math and science," she explains. She was accepted for a two-year fellowship program, the Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS), which helped her land a position as a math specialist. "I was surprised I got it," says D'Antonio.
After five years as a math specialist, D'Antonio felt ready to take the next step in her career. While she worked as a literacy specialist, she enrolled in Quinnipiac's educational leadership program.
Attending Quinnipiac gave D'Antonio a well-rounded, practical education and the chance to grow as a leader. "I loved Quinnipiac," says D'Antonio. "It was my favorite degree because I felt like the learning we did in the classroom was real to the issues that come up in the schools."
D'Antonio explains that while her master's program had helped with teaching techniques, she felt it lacked emphasis on other topics such as working with students with learning disabilities or behavior problems, or how to work with parents. "Quinnipiac's educational leadership degree was well rounded for all these kinds of issues," she says.
Quinnipiac gave her a community to lean on when she is struggling with a problem. "It was helpful to work in teams and pairs and to vary who I worked with so that I was learning from different people," she says. "I formed great relationships so that when I have problems or questions, I know I can pick up the phone and reach out to my colleagues for thoughts and advice."
Since arriving at Polk, D'Antonio has continued to improve her abilities as a leader and educator by striving to create an environment where children and adults feel respected and safe. She also emphasizes celebrating the positive. For example, she altered the format of Polk's monthly town hall meetings for students so that meetings were more focused on positives outcomes and student accomplishments. Throughout the month, teachers take pictures of students in their class to create a slideshow as a "month in review" at Polk.
"The kids see it as a reminder of all the great things they've done and they're proud of. It's been a great tool."
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