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Teacher of the Month: Antonia Mancini

This month’s featured teacher is Antonia Mancini, a humane educator and English teacher at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens, NY. Ms. Mancini, who currently teaches creative writing and English to 11th graders, is the founder of the Martin Van Buren High School Humane Club and was a volunteer at North Shore Animal League when she was a 16-year-old. She says the experience had a profound and lasting impact and she developed a keen awareness of the wonderful qualities of shelter animals - a passion she now shares with her students.

Ms. Mancini’s school has implemented the Curriculum in various ways. Martin Van Buren's Animal League Advocates Club works with North Shore Animal League America to educate the public on animal cruelty. Last year, students at Martin Van Buren held a fundraiser for puppy mill rescues, spread awareness of the positive qualities of pit bulls and other "bully" breeds, and twelve students completed an intensive three day internship at the Animal League. During those three days, students worked hands-on with shelter animals, learned about different careers, shadowed veterinarians, groomers, and animal behaviorists, and much more. Furthermore, the Martin Van Buren Mural Club, which worked in conjunction with the Advocate Club, created a beautiful mural that is displayed in the family waiting room at the League – this is the room where all potential adopters wait while their paperwork is being processed.

According to Ms. Mancini, students and parents have only positive feedback for the Curriculum. She loves its flexibility and that the lessons adhere to the Common Core Standards. In her creative writing class, students have written papers from the perspective of a shelter animal that is in need of special care, often due to a medical condition. She explains, “Not only do activities like these teach students to develop tone, voice, diction, and purpose in their writing, they also teach empathy. Students understand how the actions of humans affect the lives of our innocent companions and they can relate to the struggles of animals and admire their resilience. These lessons reach beyond the subject you teach.”

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