Italian-American Heritage Month in Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School

Dec 08, 2021 781

Ms. Linda Schiano, from Old Bridge, New Jersey, has been promoting the Italian language and culture for over 20 years. Ms. Schiano has been an Italian language teacher in Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School for 16 years. “I have been blessed to have an amazing career. I am so passionate about the Italian language and culture and I get to share this everyday with wonderful students” 

Ms. Schiano’s father was born in Napoli and her mother Roma. She grew up hearing Italian spoken in her home. She was enamoured at an early age by how amusing, lively and descriptive the language is. She reveled in how her family was passionately loud when speaking Italian and how there was a hand gesture for just about anything. She knew she wanted to be an Italian teacher. Ms. Schiano has had the opportunity to study in Florence, Rome and Siena. She has traveled throughout Italy and goes often to visit friends and family. 

In honor of Italian-American Heritage Month in October, Ms. Schiano does her annual pasta presentation. She explains the history and origin of the names of various Italian foods. Such as La Pizza alla Margherita, Nutella, biscotti, cappuccino, pomodori and so much more. During her presentation she also demonstrates how “pasta fatta in casa” is made. She uses her mother’s 57 year old pasta machine that she brought over from Italy. It’s very special to her. Ms. Schiano shares with her students that when she was their age, they would walk to nonna’s house down the block in Jamaica, Queens. Her and her brother would turn the handle and extend their hands as “i macaroni” came out of the machine. “Che bei ricordi. What beautiful memories.” During her presentation she then gives students an opportunity to try their hands at making spaghetti. Her presentation has been so successful that some of her students have asked their parents if they can purchase a pasta machine. “This is exactly what I strive to do. To encourage them to learn about their rich heritage and beautiful culture. To inspire them to continue their studies of Italian.”

Ms. Schiano works closely with her colleague Domenica Ryan. During Italian-American Heritage Month Mrs. Ryan does a lesson on the beautiful island where she was born, la Sicilia. Mrs. Ryan also does a presentation on Sicily.  During her presentation she demonstrates how to make the traditional arancini Siciliano. The students enjoy combining all ingredients to create the perfect rice ball.  Saporito!

Together Ms. Schiano and Mrs. Ryan create an atmosphere of  Italianismo by selling sweatshirts with the phrase: Forza Italia”. Their classes are often filled with Italian songs and creative activities. One such activity is the Lotsa Pasta Festa Competition. Students have an opportunity to create an original Italian piece of art using only raw pasta. Using their imagination they have constructed Il Colosseo, La Torre Pendente di Pisa, La carta Geografica Italiana, il quadro della Mona Lisa, il Vulcano Vesuvio, il Ponte Realto and so much more. 

Ms. Schiano says she is fortunate to work in a school where her principal and supervisor are very supportive and invaluable to maintaining the Italian program. 

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