Lara Carnovali, Preschool, After School & Summer Camps Italian Language Immersion Teacher at Scuola Italiana di Portland (The Italian School of Portland)
Nominated by Sabrina Johnson (parent):
I think what really makes Maestra Lara a wonderful educator is the relationships she is able to form, not only with the children in her class but also with the parents. Since learning a new language can seem a little intimidating, I worried that since my son had no previous Italian experience that he might become left out but it is actually the exact opposite. Maestra Lara is able to draw the kids in with her warm smile and vibrant energy. She is so comfortable using mostly Italian and then sprinkling in English just for clarification.
One of my favorite videos posted on Scuola Italiano di Portland's Facebook is with Maestra Lara in circle time with the kids (all BOYS that day!). She is asking them about different kinds of foods using Italian language of course and flash cards. The children are responding to her in English, but she just slowly helps each one to say their response in Italian, never shaming them for using English but not holding back from correcting their Italian. She strikes a great balance of silliness and learning, which in my opinion as a parent, is when kids learn the most.
My son is not particularly a morning person so when he gets to school in the morning he is sometimes less then excited (and sometimes downright grumpy) but when I pick him up after spending the morning with his teacher he always greets me with an excited smile and says, "MAMA I HAD A GOOD DAY!" then gives me a rundown of the songs they sang and the activities they did with Maestra Lara.
It makes me feel very good as a parent knowing that he has a teacher who cares so much about him.
Congrats, Lara, from all of us at K103! Get to know Lara Carnovali:
What inspired you to become an educator?
I remember wanting to be a teacher for as long as I can recall. When I was in elementary school, since I was quite good and quick in finishing my assignments, I was always asked to help a classmate of mine who had a huge learning disability. I truly felt I was making the difference in the life of another person, and that feeling was so strong I decided I wanted to make a difference in the lives of as many persons as I could. Teaching allows me to do so.
What do you like most about teaching?
There are few jobs like teaching that have such an impact on the future. When I teach, I know that I am giving my contribution today to make the world a better place tomorrow. In every child I have in front of me, there is hope for a better tomorrow, and I can help that hope become a reality.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
For me personally, everything has changed. I started my career back in my country, Italy, so the biggest change was a change that involved changing not only Country, but Continent, language, culture, basically everything. Something has not changed, anyway. Even here you help a child who is crying with the same hug you would use on the other side of the world. You make a child's day better with the same smile you would use in Europe, and you laugh with your students in the exact same way.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
That we are on the same boat. That teachers work for the same purpose parents work for. We are just the two faces of the same medal. Too often teachers and parents do not understand each other, too often both think they have the know-how to help their children. Teachers are parents' co-worker, we understand parents, and we know how difficult it is to be the mom or the dad you think you should be, how often parents struggle, because we feel the same.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
I started my career as a Special Education teacher. In my Country every child with special needs is assigned a personal teacher who follows the child through all his year in a school cycle, following a specific curriculum, while staying in the classroom. I remember it as a very rewarding experience. The girl I was the teacher of had very serious problem, coming from a very deprived situation, being 10-years- old, with the mind of a three year old; she was completely unable to do the easiest things on her own, and she was lacking basics everyday life experiences. We spent the entire school year out of the classroom, actually out of the school building. We took the train (her first time), we went to the supermarket, she learned how to use money and pay for the grocery, once we also went to the hairdresser together, I had her choose the hairstyle, talk to the stylist, pay for the service. She had never done anything like that before! At the end of the year she had a sparkle in her eyes I will never forget! She had also learnt how to read, just by doing normal everyday life things. For her they were a whole new world. I don't think my impact as a teacher was ever as deep as it was with her.