The visual art teacher in Plainedge Public Schools has brought what she learned into the classroom.
by Efe Tanci“Technique would be finding a way to explain things in a way that the kids feel connected to. I use their language. I call a portrait a selfie. That is what makes them want to do it more.”—Nicole McEwan Caradonna ’09
If we define education as an eternal relay race, Nicole McEwan Caradonna ’09 is among the leaders, a passionate teacher who continues to take firm steps forward and inspire others along the way.
In 2009, Caradonna applied for a leave replacement position in the district that would begin just after her graduation. Caradonna took the job to get into the profession.
“It is very tough,” she said. “I was very fortunate to get the job on my first interview.
“The director of art had said that the way my résumé looked was the reason he called me.”
After a short time, she was asked to make a demonstration lesson. It resulted in a full-time position. And she has since begun to give back to her alma mater.
This year, Caradonna has been mentoring Meghan Cerrone, a student from Adelphi’s B.F.A program, who attends Caradonna’s class to observe. Cerrone will be a student teacher there this spring.
“The experience has been great so far,” Caradonna said. “I had a really great experience when I was observing and student teaching, so it feels good to give that experience back to another aspiring educator.”
Caradonna’s motivation inspired the prospective teacher.
“I am truly blessed that I am working alongside Nicole Caradonna during my experience,” Cerrone said. “In her classroom, I have witnessed students grow creatively and succeed.” She said Caradonna has inspired her to follow her passion for creating art and how “the impact you make on just one student could help them find their [passion].”
Caradonna’s success relies on her communication and relationship with children as a teacher. She credits the dedicated faculty of College of Arts and Sciences—such as Associate Professor Jennifer Maloney—who inspired her.
“I found myself quoting her all the time in my classroom, passing on things that she said to me to my kids,” Caradonna said.
“In the class, I feel like I am doing stand-up comedy,” she continued. “Technique would be finding a way to explain things in a way that the kids feel connected to. I use their language. I call a portrait a selfie. That is what makes them want to do it more.”
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