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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Joanna Festa

Third Grade Teacher

Know Your Pelicans

What is your favorite thing about Packer?

I love our students! They constantly inspire me to make lessons more creative, multi-sensory, engaging, and challenging. I am always in awe of what our students bring to class discussions on topics such as identity, literacy, math, social studies, our classroom community, and beyond — I am always learning from them! I consider being a teacher at Packer a privilege, and I am thankful for the unique and joyful personalities that walk through my door every day!

Describe a favorite or memorable moment during your time at Packer.

During Hurricane Sandy, I had to evacuate my apartment for over a month and did not know if I would ever make it back to my home. The entire Packer community, including the administration and my students' families, helped me feel deeply connected and safe. That was the moment I knew Packer was the environment for me. I will always look back on my Hurricane Sandy experience with gratitude and strength, all thanks to Packer.

Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.

"Carry On" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. This is such a beautiful song. My dad introduced me to the band when I was 10 years old and I haven't stopped listening since. The flow, the harmony, the shift in tone, the message of the song — all so powerful. "Now witness the quickness with which we get along/ to sing the blues you've got to live the tunes and carry on/ Carry on, love is coming/Love is coming to us all." A great reminder to embrace the various cycles of love in our lives.

What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

Overall personal health and artistic expression are huge parts of my identity, as I have a background in fitness, nutrition, dance, and theatre (acting, dancing, sound design, makeup, and stage management). I used to be the director of the pre-teen division of a weight-loss camp in California. That experience ultimately led me to teaching! I am always happy to sit down and give a pep talk about healthy living habits or ways to reach fitness goals.

I am also a huge football fan (Go Giants!) and will always stop to sing a song from the show Hamilton with anyone — but that's no secret!

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