Meet the Teacher: Ms. Pagano

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Ms. Pagano is a new history teacher this year at BCA who teaches World History for underclassmen and Criminology for seniors. I sat down with her to talk about her life prior to BCA, her passion for history, what she hopes to accomplish here, and much more!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Bergen County, in Upper Saddle River. I went to Northern Highlands Regional High School.

Anything interesting about your childhood?

My childhood? I used to dance, and I attended recitals held at BCA, so I remember being backstage here as a little girl, which is pretty cool.

What was your high school/college experience like?

I ran cross country, I ran track, and I played lacrosse.

Yeah, I was very involved. I did DECA and Model UN as well. It sounds silly, but I liked to study, and I liked to do my work. I went to George Washington University in Washington D.C., and I really really enjoyed it! One of the highlights of my experience there was my involvement in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. It was a really nice experience, and that’s where I met all of my friends. That was basically my social life there, and I figured that for someone like a history major, there was no better place to be than Washington D.C.! Every morning, I would get up and run near the cherry blossoms and run to the Lincoln which was really nice.

I also studied abroad my second semester of my junior year in college. It sounds cheesy, but it was a life-changing experience. I was looking at my keychains in the back of my room, and I went to Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, France, Ireland, Germany, and Italy! I was really lucky in the fact that I made a lot of really good friends when I studied abroad, and it was nice because every weekend, we would just text each other and be like, “Where are we going to next?”

It would be so easy to just travel the world when you’re studying abroad. It’s an eye-opening experience, and it’s something that really cemented not only my love of travel but my love of history, because something I wanted to study abroad for was history. I’m teaching World History now, and in my PowerPoints, I’m actually able to include my pictures of things that I’m talking about, because I was actually there. I really wanted to be able to experience it first-hand.

Any favorite memories that stand out?

When you travel with your parents, they’re the ones who set up the airport pick-up, and they’re the ones who set up how you’re going to get to your hotel and how you’re going to get from place to place. I remember getting to Italy at 2 in the morning and getting off the train with my friend only to realize that we had to walk 10 miles. We had to walk so far to our hotel, and that was an exhausting experience, but it’s something I’m also really proud of, because we pulled together. Like, you say you want to study abroad to be independent, but getting off a train at 2:00AM in Italy trying to figure out where to go is truly independence. Just that sense of self-belief was scary but good.

How did you know you wanted to become a teacher for history? Who/what influenced you?

It sounds silly, but I never had a history teacher I didn’t like. In high school, I’ve never had a teacher that I thought, “I really don’t want to go to your class!” And so I really got excited to learn about history, and I always knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was very little. It was something I was always passionate about, and so that coupled with the fact that history has always been something that has been interesting to me made me want to make history interesting for others.

Have you gotten to know any BCA faculty, for example the history teachers?

Yeah! I would say I’m friends with the history department! Like Katie (Mrs. Blake) and Ros (Mrs. Kim) and Andrea (Mrs. Buccino), and Mr. Demeter!

How is your experience at BCA so far? Anything in particular that stands out?

Honestly, it’s been a really easy transition, because I was always worried that students would not participate in class, and I would be very worried about my getting up in front of the class and asking questions only to get blank stares. But I have to tell students to put their hands down, you know what I mean? There’s so much participation, and behavior is not an issue. Homework, they just do it. It’s just been really easy! Kids are genuinely interested in what I have to say. I’ll be talking about something, and a kid will ask me a question about something that’s sort of related, but not really related, and we’ll go off on a tangent. I’ll be like, “Woah, how did we get here?” You see, kids are genuinely interested.

What are your hobbies outside of school?

I like to run! I try to run at least five miles a day, if not maybe 2 or 3. It’s a nice stress reliever.

I have a dog named Cody, so I’ll go and walk him, too! He’s a Bichon Poodle, so he’s teeny. I also like to go to Broadway plays!

Have you ever thought of getting involved with sports here at BCA?

Yeah! I would like to. Like I mentioned, I did cross country and lacrosse when I was in high school, so that would definitely be something that I would like to see the other side of. I always wanted to be part of the other side and give out practices. I feel like that would be fun.

What do you love about history that made you want to teach it?

Oh, that’s a good question! I think the stereotypical answer is you have to know history so that it doesn’t repeat. You want to learn history so that you don’t make the same errors of the past, but history shapes everything that we do, and it shapes our perspective of the world that we’re in. Really understanding how we developed as a nation is really cool. You know, from point A to wherever we are now, like point Z.

Do you have any advice for students?

The first thing that comes to mind is to go see your teacher if you need help. I remember being nervous or scared to ask for extra help, but there’s nothing wrong with admitting you need some help. I would also say to take life one day at a time. Treat each day like it’s something new. Yeah, something might’ve happened the day before, or you might not have done so well on a test or quiz, but just take it one day at a time, and things will pick up.

Do you ever want to teach upperclassmen one day?

Yeah! I would like to. I have a Criminology 12th grade elective, and I think they are different from underclassmen.

How was your experience when you came to BCA for the first time to do your demo lesson?

It was nerve-wracking. It was like anything you do for the first time. It was new and scary, but especially based on the reputation of the school and the kids, it was especially nerve-wracking. I wondered, “What if they ask me something I don’t know!” or “what if they really stump me?” But the kids participated and they made it as easy for me as possible.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

Oh, I shared this with my freshmen! We were playing 2 Truths and a Lie, and my parents thought I was a boy up until the moment of my birth. They were going to name me Domiano Pagano, but they decided not to because they thought I would get bullied. They really thought I was a boy, and that was the first mistake. Then they thought they should name me Domiano Pagano, which was their second mistake. It’s sort of silly!

Thank you for sharing!

No, thank you!