Faculty Profile: Alexandra Mazzella
Perhaps the best endorsement of any school is when alumni seek to return as faculty. When Alexandra Mazzella was pursuing a Bachelor of Education degree at McGill University, she completed her last practicum at LCC and then jumped at the chance to join its team on a replacement contract. But three years later, there were no further replacement positions available and, wanting to try something completely different, Ms. Mazzella packed her bags and went to England where she taught English in several public schools.
“I appreciated the opportunity to experience a completely different education style, and to work with many different types of students, some of whom had significant learning challenges,” says Ms. Mazzella. “And I got to travel to many European countries while I was there.” But when a position became available at LCC in the English and Drama Departments, she didn’t hesitate to head back here. Today, Ms. Mazzella teaches Middle School English, is a grade 7 advisor and directs the Middle School Play.
Ms. Mazzella calls upon her dramatic talents when teaching her classes in an effort to always keep it interesting. “I bring a lot of acting to the class,” she says. “We’ll get on stage to depict scenes from a book, for example.” She makes use of media and technology, integrates group work, and she has been known to slip into a British accent every now and again just to keep her students on their toes.
Acknowledging that students learn differently, Ms. Mazzella encourages them to do what best works for them. “It is important that they understand that they are individuals, with their own strengths and weaknesses, and that they’re allowed to be different,” she says.
Essentially, relaying that very message is how Ms. Mazzella hopes to influence her students. “As individuals, I want them to develop their own thought processes, have imagination, and cultivate a love for reading,” she says. Mostly, she hopes that she can help them become well-rounded people. She prefers to focus on what her students are learning and is somewhat concerned about the stress that students often feel because of the emphasis placed on grades.
Ms. Mazzella has learned much from her students as well, the most valuable lesson being that making mistakes is okay. “In my first year of teaching, I was so worried that I would make a mistake,” she says. “I was afraid that my students would ask me a question and I wouldn’t know the answer.” But she has been able to let go of that fear, and enjoys when her students come up with ideas that she may never have thought about before.
As the Middle School play director, Ms. Mazzella gets a thrill from watching students step out of their comfort zones and take to the stage. “It allows them to show me what they can do and to break out of their shell,” she says. “And it is an opportunity for them to form friendships that may not have otherwise developed.”
When not at LCC, Ms. Mazzella can be found doing hot yoga, dining out, cooking, travelling and hanging out with her newborn niece.
Thinking back to those first days when she stepped into LCC for grade 7, Ms. Mazzella admits that she did not readily take to it. “It took a year for me to realize that LCC wasn’t just a school, it was a community,” she says. “And that feeling still prevails today. It’s a very special place that allows students to develop in their own way. And the staff is amazing.”