ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours is very pleased to introduce you to the 2014 Send A Teacher Traveling Award Winner – Jacqueline Malanga!
My first thought was that of disbelief. I couldn’t believe that I was selected. I had to re-read the first two sentences of the email over and over to confirm I was reading things correctly! Then I thought, “Wow, I get to share this with a lot of people!”
One of your students wrote a very touching letter of support – was he the first person you shared the news with?
Sadly, the student that wrote that very touching letter of support was already gone for the day, so I couldn’t find him, but I did send him a copy of the acceptance letter. I ran into him the next morning and he told me he screamed out loud when he read it. However, when I found out I was selected and was jumping for joy, two students that I have taught, known and, admired for the past four years, had just entered my office, and were first hand witnesses to my reaction. They knew I had applied to the program and just watched me, smiling. I don’t think they had ever seen me react like that.
You plan to join us on the Bike Across Italy: Venice to Pisa ride – what three things you are most looking forward to seeing and how will you share the experience with your students?
The three things that I am most looking forward to seeing on my Bike Across Italy trip are riding along the River Po and arriving at the Renaissance city of Ferrara to visit the Villa Bardoe, visiting Leonardo Da Vinci’s birth place, and then riding through the country side of Tuscany. I intend on sharing my trip through a photographic series, documenting my ride from the seat of my bike, and using it through out the year to teach art history to my senior class.
My perfect day on a bike is waking early and hitting the road for a ride to the beach or up north before the rest of New York City is awake. There is something so peaceful about this town when only the birds are the ones making the noise. As long as there is a destination that involves water – a lake, an ocean, or a river – then I couldn’t be happier. In New York it’s easy to access all three.
How about your perfect day in the classroom?
My perfect day in the classroom is when after I’ve spent time developing a lesson that I love to share with my students is pulled off without a hitch. When my students get just as excited about what I’m sharing with them as I do, and they create artwork or designs that reflect that enthusiasm, then my day went really, really well.
How will your experiences in Italy inform your teaching?
I feel that my experiences will inform my teaching through direct contact. I don’t think I can even imagine what it will be like to document art history specifically for my students and I’m sure there are moments that will come as a surprise. I intend on using photographs on my new Smart Board to have my students directly interact with the landscape while learning perspective and, and have them learn architectural elements though the photos of the Renaissance buildings I see along the way.
I have a wonderful student who decided to create a series of clay busts for her senior project. She had never worked in the medium before and, with a little encouragement, and because it is in her nature to learn as much as she can about whatever is that’s posing a challenge, she took to the clay with such tenacity that she produced three beautiful clay portraits. When she was showing me her work one day, she told me that she loved the medium so much that no matter what she does during college and beyond, that she wants to work with clay for a long time. That is what inspires me about teaching; that you can give a student the opportunity to explore something new and they run with it.
Who is your favorite artist and why?
This is always a really hard question for me as it changes all the time. Right now I’m really into Albert Bierstadt for his sweeping and majestic landscapes. Though, if I had to really choose, it would be Ellsworth Kelly for his simple, elegant line and magnificent use of color.
Do you have any advice for someone considering a career in teaching?
For anyone considering a career in teaching, I would tell them that it is a life of the mind, one of constant learning and growth, and the most rewarding job you’ll ever have. The relationships that you build with students is incomparable, enlightening, and always a lot of fun.
What questions do you wish we would have asked, and how would you have answered?
I don’t think that there are other questions you could have asked…though, maybe what color riding jersey am I going to wear as I ride out of Venice!