Teachers discuss the winding roads that led them to their careers


Mr. Vinella helps Junior Matt Kramer understand his accounting homework with the knowledge that Mr. Vinella gained through his education in business.

Miranda Tanenbaum, Staff Writer

It is very rare for someone’s life to go exactly as planned.  Although it may seem disappointing when things do not go your way, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  Often, it is the unexpected turns and choices in people’s lives that most shape them.

English teacher Ms. Donna Valenti had the intention of becoming a lawyer during high school. Although she enjoyed her English classes as a student at Schreiber, it was not until college that she acted on her passion for literature.

“Professor Constance Coiner at Binghamton inspired me to want to be a teacher.  In fact, the reason why I provide background and biographical information on authors that I teach is because of her.  I am modeling her approach to introducing a new piece of literature to a class,” said Ms. Valenti.

No one in Ms. Valenti’s family had experience being a teacher.  However, her mother was always involved in the school as a parent and encouraged Ms. Valenti’s decision to teach. She always spoke highly of the profession.

“I was particularly interested in teaching high school students because they are at such an exciting point in their lives, and they are forming their own observations about characters and plots.  The teens keep it interesting,” said Ms. Valenti.

Math teacher Mr. Ray DiVenuto was an engineer and programmer at IBM for 20 years.  However, in 2001 he started working in public education.

His teachers were his main inspiration for changing his career path.  Even while working as a programmer, Mr. DiVenuto would teach in his industry on occasion.

“I’ve been really lucky, I’ve had great educators—they really went above and beyond,” said Mr. DiVenuto.

Additionally, Mr. DiVenuto is very passionate about math.  He is a strong believer in its importance, and enjoys educating people about its significance.

“I’m really happy to see it being used,” said Mr. DiVenuto.

Social studies teacher Mr. Andrew Vinella started off college as a business major.  Unhappy with these courses, he switched his major to political science and ended up attending law school.

His first time considering teaching as a career path was when he was 19.

“I walked past the school of education building at the University of Michigan and thought to myself that I would probably like to be a teacher,” said Mr. Vinella.

Although he had a natural inclination toward the profession, Mr. Vinella does attribute the development of this passion to two of his former high school teachers, Mr. Kottman and Mr. Mosely, whom he felt truly cared about their students and encouraged them to do their best.

Once he knew he was going to be a teacher, Mr. Vinella chose to be with high school students.

“Interacting with teenage students often makes me consider things from new perspectives, the daily discussions in class is what continues to make teaching an interesting and rewarding career,” said Mr. Vinella.

Although he is the only teacher in his family, Mr. Vinella was grateful for his ability to transition to a career that he loves.

Mr. DiVenuto, Mrs. Valenti, and Mr. Vinella never would have seen themselves as teachers if you had asked them 30 years earlier. However, plans change, and sometimes this can be a blessing in disguise. Fortunately for these three teachers, their change of plans brought them to fulfilling careers which they  both love and are passionate about.