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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Shane Cappuccio

English Teacher

Know Your Pelicans

What is one of your favorite parts of the curriculum?

One of my favorite parts of the curriculum has been the way we prioritize creative interpretation of texts. In some educational environments, the only opportunity students have to demonstrate understanding is to write an analytical essay; but here students also have opportunities for creative interpretation.

What are your impressions of Packer so far? Our students? Your colleagues?

Packer is a really exciting place to be. It is a fast paced and high pressure environment where people routinely strive for excellence. Students are caring, thoughtful, and hardworking. They are primed not only to offer insight into academic content, but also to relate learning to their lives and their worlds. I have found my colleagues to be passionate, intelligent, witty, and collaborative.

The English department is filled with brilliant educators. They bring expertise in content and pedagogy. The department culture is collegial and collaborative.

Besides your subject, what's something you hope to teach your students?

There are two lines of thought this question inspires. The first is about skills and the second is about mindset.

In terms of skills, I try to teach students how to approach and manage their workload in way that works for them. I routinely give students options about the content they explore and the order in which they explore it. The big lesson there is that, once we are out of school, we have a lot of control about how we explore our passions, and I want my students to be prepared for life long learning.

The other lesson I hope to teach my students has to do with kindness. I try my best to be flexible and understanding when students are having trouble managing their workload. One of the lessons I hope to teach my students is that sometimes in your hours of greatest need, there are people who will be there to offer support, care, and understanding. I hope my students remember those moments and pay them forward.

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

I was almost a math teacher! I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, and I had been offered a full ride to Queens College on the condition that I would teach math for three years in a New York City public school. I accepted the offer. Then, at the suggestion of a family member, I visited another college (SUNY Purchase) on accepted student day. As part of the day, I had the opportunity to sit in on a literature class with a professor who was very inspiring — he completely blew open up my understanding of a bible story I had known since I was a kid. After that, I matriculated at Purchase as a literature major. The rest is history.  

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