By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Kindergarten teacher Tania Benedetto was recently named the 2014 Teacher of the Year in her school district by the Masonic Lodge. Her award plaque, signed by Mayor Arthur G. Vigeant reads, “Tania has been a dedicated teacher in the Marlborough Public Schools for over 17 years, most recently as a kindergarten teacher at the Kane Elementary School. Along with her kind, caring and giving nature, Tania is a dedicated and talented teacher whose classroom emboldens the growth of her students” self-esteem and skills.”
“I's lucky that I can do what I love,” chirped the bubbly Benedetto.
Growing up as the daughter of local accountant, Paul Benedetto, she always thought she would follow in his footsteps until she took her first accounting course at Bridgewater State College and realized that was not the field for her. Her mother, Judy Benedetto, was a reading specialist in Westborough and encouraged her daughter to try at least one education course.? Benedetto did. Her first taste of education was the “Introduction to Early Childhood Education” class, and she was hooked.
“I had an assignment to make a lesson plan that day and teach it to preschoolers the following Friday,” she recalled. “It was a blast!”
She went on after college to earn a Master's degree in education from American International College and has taught kindergarten since 1996.
She explained that a large percentage of the town's residents speak English as a second language, many emigrating from Brazil with Portuguese as their native tongue. Others have come from Mexico and Guatemala and speak Spanish. Still more speak various Indian dialects. That means that when their children enter kindergarten, some are bilingual and others know very little English.
“If you can just get them to feel comfortable, they just blossom,” Benedetto said. “The kids say the most interesting things. Because they'se bilingual, sometimes they say the most precious things. One little boy with a cold said, “My nose hurts like a thousand tissues.””
When asked what makes Benedetto such a good teacher, Principal Steve Silvestri said: “She's incredibly talented, caring and understanding when she works with the children. She's really collaborative with the staff and has great relationships with the parents. What makes her special is that she has all these traits. Our staff is a real family.”
Benedetto praised her fulltime paraprofessional, Ann Coleman.
“She's extraordinary and highly dedicated and hardworking,” she said. “We make an excellent team.”
She also praised the rest of the school staff.
“The other teachers and colleagues are my support system,” she said. “We help each other and learn from each other every day. I feel so lucky to be working in my school with such dedicated people. They'se like family. I love my job. I feel very fortunate to be a teacher.”