Laura credits St. Catharine’s with giving her confidence in her own education, saying that many teachers were supportive, especially Mr. Antinore for math, Mrs. Bender for English and Ms. Timeo Sheehan for Health and PE. A transfer to SCA after a tough first year at another Catholic high school in the Bronx, Laura says, “The next three years were the best years of my high school experience. SCA was a much smaller school and the teachers were very helpful and kind.”
She also says SCA put her on the path of going to college and continuing her education. “I truly found my way at SCA and it was only because they held a college night that I attended, that I was able to see my future." The first in her family to attend college, Laura continued her education with a master’s from Fordham University and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Manhattanville College in 2018.
She began her teaching career at St. Raymond Elementary School and then became a reading specialist at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y. She says, “Blythedale remains one of the best experiences of my career. The students I worked with were an incredible inspiration to me.”
From there, Laura went on to teach at White Plains High School, where she has been for over 20 years. During that time she has worked with a wide range of students with disabilities from Autism to Down’s Syndrome to emotional and learning disabilities. “Some of the most challenging disabilities my students deal with are the invisible ones,” she says. “Part of my job is helping students navigate their way through the rigors and demands of high school and prepare them for college, or not. If I could change one thing about education these days, it would be to bring more programs for trades back to school and tell students that college is not the only option after high school. We need to be doing more to prepare students who are not college bound to live independently and to be proud of following a different career path.”
In addition to teaching, she also was the director of the Staff Development Center for five years and was instrumental in bringing 1-1 technology to the district. Laura says this was critical when the pandemic hit. Laura has also been teaching reading to adult students at Westchester Community College for more than a decade.
Reflecting on her many educational experiences, she says, “I am not really sure what would have become of me had SCA not opened its doors to me. My guess is my life may have taken a different path. I hope that I have served my students as well as my teachers and professors have served me. I have been blessed and can only hope that someday, a student will say the same of me.”