In recognition of National Teacher Appreciation Week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is making phone calls this week to four teachers across the country, thanking them for the job they do, and yesterday an educator at Charlestown High School was among that select group.
CHS history teacher Amy Piacitelli received Duncan’s call around 9:15 a.m., and said she had no idea she had been chosen as one of four teachers in the United States to be honored when she showed up for work in the morning.
“I had no idea. I was surprised, and glad that I had a heads up,” she said with a laugh. “A five minute heads up.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education's press office, Piacitelli was nominated by one of the Department of Education's regional teaching fellows, Steven Berbeco.
Duncan is making the phone calls to thank educators for doing a job that doesn’t come with a huge salary or very much recognition, but is absolutely vital to the future of America and its children.
A teacher in Durham, NC was called on Monday, followed by an educator in Menlo Park, Calif. Tuesday. The destination of Thursday's fourth and final call remained a closely guarded secret at the time of this writing.
“It’s exciting because I do work hard, like we all do,” said Piacitelli. “This school is full of wonderful teachers, and I don’t really know that I should be singled out, but I do feel honored.”
Piacitelli has been a teacher at Charlestown High for the past 11 years, after coming over from the now-defunct Grover Cleveland Middle School in Field’s Corner, where she spent the first six years of her teaching career.
So what did the Medford resident and secretary Duncan talk about?
“I thought about asking to speak to his boss,” joked Piacitelli, who is the history team content leader at CHS and a longtime Advanced Placement history teacher.
“I told him that our school is a school that is really moving in the right direction, and that it’s a school that it is easy to be a good teacher in,” Piacitelli said about the details of her talk with Duncan. “By that I mean we have a really supportive administration and a structure that allows teachers to collaborate, and that it is a good place to teach.”
Not one to pass up a joke, CHS principal Margaret Ranny Bledsoe chimed in with “we did slip her a little bit of money to say that,” which drew chuckles from the assembled teachers present at the reception.
“She does a lot for our school,” Ranny Bledsoe said, striking a more serious note about the work Piacitelli does at CHS.
Piacitelli said the best part of her job is the knowledge that what she does is important.
“I believe what we are all doing is important,” she said. “It’s really nice, and, I think, rare, if you look at the general population, to say: ‘what I do is really important.’ That makes the hard work worthwhile.”
But it's the kids that can make the job fun..
“The kids are hilarious, and it’s always something new and fun,” she said. “Everyday is different.”
She wouldn’t have to search too far back in the memory bank to find an example either. When she was notified of the call from Secretary Duncan, Piacitelli was in class. She was told she was needed in the office, to which her students responded with that age-old classroom refrain that signifies impending discipline.