Students Become the Teachers on Shadow Day

Students Become the Teachers on Shadow Day

Whether they were preparing for a future career or just looking to take a trip down memory lane, it was a successful day for Wantagh High School students who participated in Shadow Day on Feb. 2. 

The Groundhogs Day tradition pairs high school students with teachers at Forest Lake, Mandalay and Wantagh elementary schools. They assist with lessons and other tasks, and gain experience working with children. More than 40 students took part in Shadow Day this year, assigned to classes from pre-K through fifth grade, as well as special subject areas such as art, music, physical education, reading and STEAM. 

Business teacher Christine Compagnino, the district’s work-based learning coordinator, said it is a great opportunity for students who want to enter professions in which they could be working with children, such as day care, education or medicine. They experience the day in the life of a teacher. 

In Jen Jencius and Jennifer Florio’s kindergarten class at Wantagh Elementary School, they welcomed three high school students, Julia Avena, Jessica Gutfleisch and Sadie Reich. They helped run centers, which featured small-group literacy and math activities.  

Ms. Florio described Julia, Jessica and Sadie as very nurturing and caring, which are essential traits for anyone who wants to work with children. 

Jessica, a senior, aspires to be a pediatric nurse and enjoyed taking part in Shadow Day. She said she gained a lot of knowledge by watching two experienced teachers and also from directly working with the kindergartners. 

“I love interacting with kids,” she said. “I want to work with them in the future.”

Sophomore Damien Crowley signed up for Shadow Day to return to his fifth grade classroom and help out one of his favorite elementary teachers, Traci Weiss. He spent part of the day helping students with math problems. Ms. Weiss even had a surprise for Damien when she showed him his picture on her wall of photos from years past. 

Junior Joe Robbins was paired with his track coach, James Punzone, who is also a fourth grade teacher at Wantagh Elementary School. He assisted students during a hands-on activity in which they had to use a toothpick to “unearth” all of the chocolate chips from a cookie to simulate a fossil dig. 

“This is fun,” said Joe, who wants to be teacher. “Everyone is having fun, so that’s cool to see.”