Welcome, Ms. Sigismondi!

Ayah Yusuf, Writer

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The woman, the myth, the legend: Ms. Sigismondi herself. She’s not new to Bancroft but she is new to the Upper School, so I took some time to sit down with her and do a new teacher interview, just to get to know her a little bit better.

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Why did you make the switch from Middle to Upper School? Do you regret not doing it sooner?

Ooooooo, wow. I do not regret, let’s start there. I do not regret not doing it sooner because I definitely loved my time in Middle School, and I really appreciated a lot of different opportunities that I had to kind of perfect some of my teacher skills and work on some of the ways that I would present information or work one-on-one with students. So I really appreciated my time for that and other reasons. I made the switch because I think I wanted something a little bit different. I had always been in middle school. I have been here now six years. Yeah, six years now, and I’ve always been with either 7th or 8th grade in that time and I was ready to try new classes.

You wanted to spice it up a little bit.

Yea, I really wanted to create my own- I’m very excited about the opportunity to create Selectives. So, that was exciting for me.

How did you end up a teacher? Was it something that you always wanted to do?

No! Never. I thought that I would never be a teacher. I started in the Bio/Pre-Med track at Holy Cross and started taking a lot of the pre-med requirements and did pretty well but just hated every second of it and knew it was not something that I was not interested in sustaining for years and years and years. I just didn’t feel like it was the thing I actually wanted to commit myself to. So I dropped Bio and Pre-Med and picked up two majors: English and Psychology, two things that I was always interested in. So I went with the double major and then my junior year going into senior year I took a summer internship at the Nativity School of Worcester and I was doing a lot of the stereotypical intern work — a lot of papers and envelopes and organizing files — and I found myself wanting so badly to be in the classroom with the Nativity guys and with the teachers because they had their summer session at the time. I just really felt this weird desire to be in there and like helping out in the classroom, and it kind of made me realize that maybe that is the direction I want to go in and actually teach English more than anything else I was really considering. So I took my first job after Holy Cross, which was the two-year fellowship program at Nativity and tried to see if I wanted to become a teacher and loved every second of it. So that kind of solidified my decision for me.

And you stayed at Nativity for how long?

For the two years, yeah.

And then you jumped on over.

And then I came on over.

How did you hear about Bancroft? How did you learn about it?

Good question. So because I was on the eighth-grade team at Nativity, I was working with a lot of students as they were applying to high schools, and Bancroft was always on most of those guys’ lists. It was one that the eighth-grade class took a tour of every single year, and I had come here a couple of times so I just really liked how warm the community felt here and I could really tell that teachers were working very closely with students and that kids cared about their work, teachers cared about their work, and I saw a lot of similarities between Nativity and Bancroft in that way. So after my two years were up, I thought it would be a good move here.

So this was actually, like, the first real teaching job that you had that was not a fellowship then?

Well, correct. So I was a full-time teacher at Nativity. I did have a regular course load. I had my outside requirements — like I did the intramurals program, I was in charge of that. I had advisees. So I did all of that stuff but yes, that was a fellowship program as opposed to just a job so to speak but yeah. So I guess in some ways Bancroft was my first real job. 

Keeping on the subject of Bancroft, what are the things that you really like about the school?

As a teacher, I love the flexibility that I have with my course, all my courses. I think Mrs. Fortier does a great job as an English Department Head outlining all of the specifics that we should be doing in class but also giving us a lot of freedom to do and create and make projects and yeah, try different things … not to fall into a regular routine. But I also really like, as I said, that community feel. I love schools where people know each other and where you don’t really find people, students and teachers alike, just falling through the cracks. I love that I can walk down the hall and know if not every name, which I think I do, but know every face at least and say hi to everybody and the teachers know me even though I guess I’m sort of new. It just feels sort of warm and close. That I love. 

You kind of already answered this question, but what’s your favorite thing about teaching here?

Hmmmmm….

Lunch doesn’t count.

Lunch doesn’t count. Um, well… I think it’s similar to my last answer, but it’s very supportive. I think the faculty does a really good job supporting each other. I think we use each other as resources really frequently and people are incredibly helpful. They want to, you know, support their colleagues. And I also love that students are incredible helpful of each other; they’re helpful to teachers. I just feel like people work and collaborate really well together. And again, it feels close. 

It’s all about the community.

Yeah.

So now we’re going to move away from Bancroft Things™ and we’re going to start to get to know you a little better Ms. Sigismondi.

Cool!

What’s something you love doing in your free time?

Well, I – two answers come to mind. Actually, three answers come to mind. Some students definitely know this about me, especially some advisees I’ve had in the past but I really like to learn and practice calligraphy and hand-lettering. I’m really big into the bullet journaling community in that I watch those YouTube videos every once in a while and I set up my planner and I use my little ruler and all my materials, so I really like practicing handwriting. I also really enjoy listening to podcasts. There’s always a podcast playing in the background when I’m at home or if I go to the gym, I’m usually not listening to music, I’m listening to podcasts. And I also really love cooking. I love just going to Trader Joes and buying a bunch of things that I haven’t necessarily worked with before and just like creating a recipe out of them. Or finding a recipe online and then trying to make my own version of it. So, those three things, I would say.

An all-around woman. 

Thanks! Oh, and I should say, I like to read. But that’s fourth on the list.

Cats or dogs?

Well, I grew up with six cats and one dog, so I really find myself in the camp of “both” but if I were to have a pet, cause I don’t right now in my own apartment, but if I were to get a pet it would be a dog.

What kind of dog?

Definitely a shelter dog, adopt don’t shop, but I would be open. I would be open, I think. 

Just whatever dog calls your name.

Exactly, like, anyone that looks like he or she would be a great pal and yeah. Someone that doesn’t bark a ton though. I think little chihuahuas are cute, but they’re very yippy. 

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate! Hands down.

What is your happy place?

I don’t know. I think, in the kitchen. I really think, like just cooking and experimenting. I take so much enjoyment in that process. 

So is cooking your hidden passion?

I guess!

Are we going to see you on Master Chef in a couple of years?

Chopped! It would be Chopped. 

Favorite cooking show? 

Chopped is number one for sure. A very close second would be the Great British Baking Show. And a very close third, although they are all up there, would be Final Table.

Favorite book?

We might have to come back to this one. I would say To Kill A Mockingbird is definitely up there. I just love so much about To Kill A Mockingbird. Having now taught Montana 1948, I’ve come to really love that one quite a bit, but I would say that that’s one of those novels that I’ve come to love because of teaching it as opposed to the other way around. I would say the same for The Road, that I came to love it because I wanted to teach it. And I had read it in the past and I had been very familiar with it years before actually teaching it but I think I’m discovering a lot of new appreciations for it now that I’m teaching it. 

Favorite movie?

Not really a movie person. Um, that one I don’t really know what I would say. Which is so weird I just don’t watch movies.

How about what’s the last movie that you watched?

This is the hardest question you’ve asked me. Hands down the hardest one. I would have to get back on you on that. Like in theaters or? 

Just in general. Like the other day, I was bored so I put on a movie. 

What did I watch the other day? That, like, so rarely happens. It’s so rare that I sit down and watch a movie. I just like- That’s not my go-to media. For me, it would be like a podcast or a show or YouTube like all of those before a movie. 

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Anything with like, a lot of texture in it. So- what’s the Ben and Jerry’s one? It’s like the… I’m going to have to look it up. Is it the Tonight Dough? Yes, that it! The Tonight Dough. I like a lot of texture in ice cream.

Favorite pastime?

I mean when I hear the word pastime I almost always think baseball as like “America’s pastime,” but I guess it works in the sense that I truly love going to baseball games. I have a couple of really close friends back at home in New York where we try to go to baseball games as often as we can. I took a trip with a few friends this summer to Chicago and we made sure to see a White Sox game. Yeah, like that was one of the only things that were set in stone on our agenda. We wanted to see the Cubs but they were away. So, we settled for the White Sox. 

Favorite food?

So I come from a very Italian family, so anything that you can put pesto on would probably be my favorite food. 

So, anything?

Yes, anything. I like a lot of the Italian staples that I grew up eating. So like a lot of pasta dishes a lot of — oh, I could tell you what I just recently tried that I never knew I liked before. Do you know what grouper is?

It sounds like a type of fish.

Yes, it is a type of fish! I just had that recently for the first time ever and it was unbelievably delicious. But I wouldn’t call it my favorite food. 

Can you put pesto on it?

I did not put pesto on it.

So we don’t know yet! What’s the biggest item on your bucket list?

I would love to skydive. Hasn’t happened yet.

Indoor or outdoor?

I would absolutely love to do outdoor skydiving. For sure. 

This is not really a question, but I always like to end my interviews with this one request. Give me your best joke.

You’re making me blank on all these questions. Um… I don’t know off the top of my head. I don’t have a lot of jokes ready at hand.

What’s the first one that comes to mind?

I only, like, know the punchline like I can’t remember the actual joke. It’s like-Oh, um. What do you call an alligator in a vest? Right? Is that it?

I don’t know, what do you call an alligator in a vest?

An investigator. But I had to work backwards! Cause all I could remember was the punchline.

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And with that, our interview finished. It was an incredible time and getting to know Ms. Sigismondi was incredible, as are classes taught by her. I would like to send another thank you to Ms. Sigismondi again for taking the time to sit down and talk with me. Hopefully, she remembers our conversation in a couple of years when she’s fresh off her victory on Chopped.

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