Dana Mingione, ’15: High School Italian Teacher

Dana Mingione, ’15, is an Italian teacher at Tappan Zee High School, her former high school, in New York. At St. Joe’s, she was a triple major in English, Italian and Linguistics. She also worked as tutor in the SJU Writing Center and served on the staff of the Crimson & Gray literary magazine. Following her graduation from St. Joe’s, she was an English teacher in Italy.

Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

Teaching was always something I could easily see myself doing. I was one of those kids that always loved school, especially my language and literature-based classes. I want to be a resource for kids like me who already have an appreciation for language and culture as well as for kids who may struggle with language. I also want to support students undertaking the extremely difficult task of learning English as a second or additional language.

What previous work experiences prepared you for your current position?

Before this job, I had had other teaching experiences, including nine months teaching English in Milan, a semester teaching English in Florence and a week-long summer camp teaching English in Philadelphia. This is my first real experience teaching Italian in a classroom of my own.

What do you like most about your job?

My favorite thing about teaching in general is definitely that “aha!” moment when students grasp a difficult concept, remember something on their own or just generally “get it.” I also love seeing the genuine joy and excitement that my students have for the Italian language and culture. One incredibly special aspect of my job this year in particular, however, is that I have the privilege of working alongside the teachers who inspired me to pursue this career path in the first place. I couldn’t have hoped for a more supportive work environment.

How did your time at St. Joe’s impact your career path?

I chose St. Joe’s in large part because I wanted to major in Italian. My Italian major absolutely deepened my love for and knowledge of Italian language and culture, but I was also able to branch out and find areas of study that complemented my interest in Italian. English had always been near and dear to me, so majoring in English as well was a joy, but it was linguistics that snuck up on me and grew to become extremely important. Each new semester brought a new area of linguistics for me to explore, answering long-harbored questions and exponentially increasing my curiosity about language. Across all disciplines, the professors I had at St. Joes were instrumental in my success. They encouraged me to pursue teaching, and I owe them all a great deal.

Do you have any advice for current English majors?

Enjoy where you are right now. Appreciate the point in your life where you currently find yourself and strive to get everything you can out of the present moment. Be curious, open to new possibilities and willing to try something outside of your comfort zone.

—Elizabeth Krakoviak, ’17