It's All About Perspective
A Digital Narrative by Lauren Lucca
- Immediate Family: Grew up with mom, dad and younger brother (5 years)
- Mom: Microbiology professor at a community college
- Dad: Project Manager/Mechanical Engineer in NYC
- Tom: Electrical Engineering major at University of Delaware
- Dad’s side: 2 sisters and their families and parents live within a 20 minute radius on Long Island from each other. His last sister lives in Massachusetts.
- Mom’s side: Her parents lived in California for most of my life before they passed away. 1 sister and her family still lives in California. 1 sister married an Englishman and moved to England about 11 years ago.
- My whole family speaks English
- Some of my grandfather’s siblings, cousins and parents know Italian (on Dad's side)
Race, Ethnicity & Country of Origin
- Born: in America
- Race: Caucasian
- Origins of Dad’s side: Italian
- Origins of Mom’s side: Italian, Scandinavian, English, Scottish
- I identify most with my Italian heritage since I am over 50% Italian.
- My brother and I were raised Catholic
- Dad’s side: Catholic
- Mom’s side: Mom grew up with no religion, but her grandmother and aunt was Jewish
Cultural Experiences Growing Up in Massapequa Park, Long Island, New York
- I grew in on Long Island in a relatively wealthy, mostly white, Catholic, Italian town.
- Caucasian: 91.0%
- Hispanic: 6.2%
- Asian: 1.7%
- Two or more races: 0.9%
- American Indian: 0.08%
- Other race: 0.06%
- Black: 0.01%
- Catholic: 68%
- Jewish 20%
- Other 11%
Lifestyle & Homes:
- Family Homes: 86%
- Other: 14%
- Italian: 30.7%
- Irish: 24.1%
- German: 11.6%
- Polish: 3.7%
- English: 3.6%
- Russian: 2.0%
Childhood & Adolescent Experiences
- East Lake Elementary
- Berner Middle School
- Massapequa High School
- Honors English and History
- Regular classes for Math and Science
- Took 6 years of French
- Marching Band and Wind Ensemble
- Dance Lessons from age 3-18
- Intramural Soccer league from age 5-16
- Yearbook club
- Key club
- Leo "Lions" Club
- Elementary Education & Middle School science major at University of Delaware
- In the UD Marching Band
- President of Student Literacy Council
- Volunteered at the Emmaus House for Battered Women and Families
- Graduated in 2011
- Student teaching experiences: different schools and districts throughout Delaware including Christina, Appoquinimink, Smyrna, a school for disabled children, etc
About the University of Delaware
- Located in the middle of the east coast
- Founded in 1743
- Adopted co-education in 1872
- Mid sized (14,000 undergrads makes up 80% of population)
- Programs: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Engineering, Health and Nursing Services, Human Resources, Education, Public Policy and Marine Studies.
- Athletics teams
- 300 person marching band
- Entrance Difficulty: Moderately difficult
- Average of 63% of applicants are admitted
- 39% Delaware
- 57% Other States and Territories
- 4% Other Countries
- 58% Female
- 42% Male
- 76% White
- 7% Hispanic
- 5% African American
- 4% Asian
- 4% International
- 3% Two or More Races
- 1% Race/Ethnicity Not Reported
- <1% American Indian / Alaskan Native
- <1% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
- Low income= 12%
Adulthood & Teaching
- 7th and 8th grade science teacher at Smyrna Middle School for 3+ years.
- Have taught 7th and 8th grade science units, including Diversity of Life, Genetics, Properties of Matter, Delaware Watersheds, Transformation of Energy, Weather and Climate, Astronomy, and Ecosystems.
- Lived in an apartment in Bear for 1 year and then bought a townhouse in Middletown DE and have lived there for 2+ years.
- Adopted a cat named Callie in 2012.
- Began my master’s degree in Applied Technology in Fall 2013 and hope to be completed after summer 2015.
- Travels: I have been to about half the states in the US, as well as several countries including England, Italy, France and Ireland.
Cultural Messages & Encouragement
I grew up on Long Island in Massapequa Park, NY. My immediate family is white, from Italian descent, Catholic and very family oriented. I was not raised to dislike other cultures, but I was exposed to mainly white people my entire life, so that is what I became used to. My high school was composed of people who were almost exactly like me- white, well off financially, Catholic and family oriented. There was very little cultural diversity throughout high school.
- I did have the opportunity to attend summer camp at Hofstra Summer Camp every summer since I was young, so that was here that I met other children (and later other adults) who were not exactly like me. I got to meet people from all races and ethnicities and made friends with a few Hispanic, African American and Indian friends. However, I only got to see these friends once a year during camp and eventually, we all grew older and stopped going.
This was the only time I encountered racial and ethnic diversity until I went to college. However, even in college, I tended to flock together with people who were similar to me. I met a few people through friends who were African American and from other races and ethnicities, but did not interact with them as much as my close friends. In fact, I actually met my current boyfriend, who is African American, at college through mutual friends, but we didn't start dating until several years after we graduated college. Being with him has really opened my eyes to what African Americans have gone through in school and in life. I will be honest and admit that my parents have refused to meet him because they still have racist thoughts. It has been difficult trying to understand where they are coming from, but this experience has made me grow both as a person and a teacher. I find that I have a more open mind when dealing with my students and find that I never want to treat any student of mine the way that my boyfriend has been treated for most of his life.
- College also helped me realize what teaching children of all races would be like. Most schools I had experienced up until that point had consisted mostly of white students. My practicum and student teaching experiences took place in different school districts in Delaware, including Christina, Appoquinimink and Smyrna. My sophomore year I worked at a school in the Christina district in Wilmington and worked with first graders on their reading skills. The school pulled from some of the roughest and toughest neighborhoods in the area and the majority of the students were black. I worked with a little boy who wanted to give up on school because he was struggling to read. I was able to create a game with cars for our lessons because he loved cars. I was able to get him interested in our reading lessons and get through to him until he looked forward to it. That was the moment I realized that this was why I wanted to be a teacher and that it doesn't matter what the student acts like or looks like.
- I was exposed to people with different sexual preferences from the time I was little and didn’t even realize it until I was older. My great aunt has had a life partner for the last 30 years and my two aunts are all I have ever known. I didn’t even realize it was not normal until I was in middle or high school and just realized it one day. A few months ago, another aunt of mine told my family that she had found a partner as well.
- When I was in high school, there were a few students in my class who had different sexual preferences. I was friends with one boy who was gay and our class valedictorian cut her hair really short our senior year and always had more masculine features to her. But it never bothered me that they seemed different than everyone else.
- I feel that it is this personal experience that I have that helps me relate to my students more and to not judge them for their preferences. But I do understand that not everyone acts the way I do, so one of the first things I tell my students when they walk into my room is that ‘we are all equals in this classroom.’ I have high expectations for my students, both in aspects of achievement and in their treatment of others. All of my students are expected to try their best in my classroom, to treat everyone in the room with respect, to maintain a positive atmosphere in the classroom and to respect and listen to me, the teacher. I make sure that they understand that race, ethnicity, religion and mental disabilities do not matter here.
Areas of Struggle
- Socio-economic status is an area that I continue to struggle with, even today. Since I came from a family that was able to support themselves and me, it is difficult for me to relate to some of my students who are not as well off as I was and still am. I do not think I am prejudice against them, but it certainly is hard for me to step into their shoes.
- Even worse, I struggle with finding solutions to the problems that these children have. Many of them constantly struggle with getting their work done because their families are too busy working to make ends meet. They cannot stay home and help them with their homework, so they do not complete it and they miss reviewing what we did in class. They have limited access to technology at home, so assigning projects at home using technology is difficult. How can I expect some of these children to come to school and learn math and science when they are struggling to find a place to sleep at night? On the other hand, how can I lower my expectations for them? That will not benefit them at all. I try not to lower my expectation for any of my students. My special education students and those of lower socio-economic status need a bit more help from me than “normal” students, but they can be just as successful as any other student. Finding a balance between the two is still a consistent struggle that I will work through in the future.
Lastly, I continue to struggle with understanding how a child who struggles actually feels. I was an honors student throughout my childhood and adolescence and, with the exception of a slight struggle in mathematics, I never had a severe problem learning something. I am a special education teacher and I accommodate my students when they cannot understand something. However, I don’t know how frustrating it actually is for them to struggle learning something and have to ask for help. This is something I will constantly try to understand because I want to understand my students as much as I possibly can.
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- University of Delaware - CollegeData College Profile. (n.d.). Retrieved December 10, 2014, from http://www.collegedata.com/cs/data/college/college_pg01_tmpl.jhtml?schoolId=1669
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