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Being a Teacher: It Begins

by Ms. Cimini-Samuels 

Ms Cimini-Samuels and Ms Sackstein attended a weekend Ed camp on Long Island to network and grow as educators. The learning as a teacher never ends.
Ms Cimini-Samuels and Ms Sackstein attended a weekend Ed camp on Long Island to network and grow as educators. The learning as a teacher never ends.



When I was a kid, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up my answer would usually be some version of treehugger – marine biologist, wildlife ecologist, herpetologist.

The answer was never teacher.

In college I double majored in biology and environmental science and loved all the time I was spending outdoors.  In my senior year I got two internships: one for the summer at the Bronx Zoo and one during the school year at the Ross Park Zoo in Binghamton.

Both involved working for the education departments in the zoos.  As cliche as it sounds, those two experiences changed the course of my life.  They made me realize that I loved teaching.  I didn’t just want to be a treehugger, I wanted to help inspire future generations of tree huggers.

Like gazillions of students before me, I panicked as graduation drew closer.  I knew that I wanted to teach, but where? What skills did I have? Who would want to hire me.  The summer after graduation I was interning at the Bronx Zoo again.

One day I was talking to one of the educators there and he told me about a place called Nature’s Classroom where he had worked.  The pay was decent, they provided a place to live and food and it was outdoor education.

Perfect! I applied, got the job, and in early September off I went to Groton, Massachusetts to begin the next adventure on my life.  The city girl was moving to the country to pursue her dreams!

When I got to Nature’s Classroom I could not believe what I had gotten myself into.  I was living in a cabin in the woods, the boiler was in my bedroom, the doors didn’t lock and I was working 14 hour days hiking around in the woods with students from all over New England and New York.  It was the most fun I have ever had at a job! I was getting paid to play in the woods every day.

After a full year and three summers with Nature’s Classroom, it was on to the next adventure.  Graduate school (where I studied environmental conservation education) was followed by a job teaching at the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston.

Somewhere in the middle I also worked with the Parks Department helping urban schools build schoolyard gardens.  I loved all of these jobs but I soon realized that the part I liked best was the teaching.  I wanted to be in a classroom. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do more than spend my days introducing students to the wonders of the natural world.

So, back to school I went and a year later I was in a classroom, first in the South Bronx and, since 2007, at WJPS.

11 years and counting and I still love what I do.

This past year I took some time off after my son was born.  When I returned to work at the end of November, something unexpected happened.  I found that though I missed my son, I was happy to be back with the students.  Being away for a time made me realize how much I love what I do.

I am many things.  I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend just to name a few.  And I am a teacher.  It is part of who I am.  Knowing that I am a part of the lives of my students, even a small part, brings me great joy.  And as I continue to grow as an educator, my joy for the job grows greater.  I can’t wait to see what the next eleven years bring.

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  • C

    C SMay 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

    It was very interesting to read your article. How you’ve always wanted to be a “treehugger” but you’ve ended up as a teacher. I really love your teaching and you are a great teacher.

    • M

      Ms. CiminiMay 11, 2015 at 10:27 am

      Thanks for the feedback and the super sweet compliments!

      I think that I can do both – be a treehugger and a teacher. I have built my career around the belief that in order to love our earth and want to preserve the natural areas, people have to first understand how and what they are. After they have achieved that understanding they can work to preserve them. Being a teacher, I hope that I can inspire some of my students to study and love the earth as I do and consequently work to do treehuggery things too!

  • W

    WJPSMay 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Great article! I learned so much about your teaching career!