Vincent's Views: Trio of New Bridgeport High Teachers Look Back at First Year as an Indian Educator

By Vincent Pinti on June 05, 2017 from Vincent’s Views via

As several of Bridgeport's teachers left to pursue a life of retirement, new pupils became the teachers and followed in their footsteps. At Bridgeport High, the community welcomed three new educators, Mr. Brad Bonenberger, Mr. Brian Elliot, and Mrs. Cara Pinti.
Mr. Bonenberger and Mr. Elliot had taught previously. This was Mr. Elliot’s second shot, his first being at Fairmont Senior High School, while Bonenberger had been teaching at Washington Irving Middle School for several years. However, this was Mrs. Pinti’s first full-time teaching position, though she did have a part-time position at Lincoln High School.
One would wonder what a first year would entail at a school, let alone at one with the high standards that Bridgeport is known for throughout the state. Though, firsts of any kind can be difficult, it truly was a major transition for all three of them. Some teachers ease into the year, but these teachers quickly jumped in head first.
“Well, originally I had a long-term substitute teaching position at Bridgeport, and I kind of already knew that a math teacher at the school, Mrs. Jane Connor, was planning on her retirement. I really had been interested in acquiring a position at Bridgeport because I have my daughter Kaitlyn who was getting ready to be a junior there, and several of her cousins were attending the school. I have always been a die-hard Bridgeport fan because of my husband Steve, and my kids have participated in athletics at the city schools. It also let me be closer to home, which was nice,” Pinti said. 
”Prior to that, I had a half-time substitute teaching position at Lincoln. So, I bid on the Bridgeport job, and five days before the school year started, I was informed that I got hired full-time to be a geometry teacher, which was wonderful, but definitely an interesting transition. Yet, I could not be more thankful to the administration and the Math Department who welcomed me to the school and helped me get moved into my new classroom. I really could not have asked for a better group of people, who are like me and really care about what we are doing,” said Pinti.
The staff received a really good rep from the newcomers, “Working with the staff is fantastic; I really have not had a single problem. They are genuinely helpful, and I really feel that they hope for me to succeed. We all are really rooting each other on. You know, teaching is an odd profession; it is one of the few careers, where you are expected to steal from one another. You are expected to find ideas from others because they are the ones who can provide insight on what really works,” said Elliot.
We must not leave out the wonderful students at Bridgeport, who do not just crave to excel, but to learn, “Every single day that I taught, my students, they gave me something to be thankful for. I learned skills, while teaching them, skills that I will use for the rest of my life. While I pushed them, I watched their progress, and it made me feel like a better person. I felt that I was teaching them skills not just in reading, writing, and broadcasting, but how they could be a better person, and how they can respond to adversity,” said Bonenburger.
Pinti added to that.
“I learned that every student is different, and that they are individuals with strengths and weaknesses. While, above all my focus of the year was to push them to at least want to learn math, to try to want to understand the curriculum. But, really in my class, the kids I hoped would learn more than just the math, but how to speak in public. How to discover the problem, and explain their solution to their peers, to have the courage to go up to the board and not to be nervous, but confident in their work is what I try to focus on. That is my hope for my students, and just witnessing some of them open up in that way makes it all worthwhile,” said Pinti.
Learning is never one-sided, and all three teachers agreed that they learned much from their pupils this year, “I really was thankful that I mostly had freshman English classes for my first year because I felt that we were both adapting to a new environment, a new situation that we both faced, and it made everything much more comfortable for the whole year, and especially the first couple of weeks. I could not have been prouder than to watch students open up and voluntarily begin writing poetry in their notebooks at the beginning of class later in the year because I felt like what I was saying, what I was teaching, finally started speaking directly to them,” said Elliot.
As a result of what these teachers learned this year, “I have learned that I will never fully be able to anticipate what will come next year for I never fully expected what I was getting this year. I hope to be more confident, organized, and fluid. Especially with high school students, I will try to be more flexible and open-minded. These kinds of skills, will truly not just make me a better teacher, but a better human being. I want my students more than anything, to learn to be more empathetic, confident, and grateful for what they have in this classroom. Those are my hopes for next year,” said Bonenburger.
With that, a year full of motivation has concluded. We have learned that the teacher is also a student and that the student is also a teacher. These teachers will treasure the memories they have made their first year at Bridgeport High School for some time. The students will also remember the meaningful concepts their teachers taught them, and that they are not just math teachers or just English teachers. They are people that we all are thankful for.
Editor's Note: Pictured, from left, are Mr. Brian Elliot, Mrs. Cara Pinti, and Mr. Brad Bonenberger. Vincent Pinti is a student in Mrs. Alice Rowe's journalism department. His blog is not assigned by Connect-Bridgeport, but is a submitted piece.

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