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High School Students Shine Bright as Teacher Shadows

Posted Date: 02/13/2024

Shadow Day


The groundhog did not see its shadow on Feb. 2, but elementary teachers throughout their Wantagh School District saw theirs. About 30 students from Wantagh High School spent a few hours learning about the teaching profession in the appropriately named Shadow Day.


The annual tradition dates back more than a decade and is part of the district’s work-based learning program. Business education teacher Christine Compagnino said any high school student is welcome to sign up, and they are paired with teachers from Forest Lake, Mandalay and Wantagh elementary schools who volunteer.


Ms. Compagnino said that many students who participate are considering careers as teachers or in other child-related fields, and this gives them practical experience.


“I want the students to realize what it’s like to work with children on a professional level,” she said. “It’s nice for them to work with kids in a setting that is more structured.”


Senior Dean Armstrong and junior Brianna Henriques spent the day with their former second grade teacher, Barbara Moeller, at Forest Lake Elementary School. Both are aspiring teachers.


“I want to be a teacher one day and help kids learn and help them grow,” Dean said. “It’s amazing that Wantagh offers this opportunity. You get a sample of what teaching is like before you go into it as a major.”


Brianna said this was her third time participating in Shadow Day. She enjoys the energy of the students and watching how each child learns differently. 


Second grade teacher Lori Gottlieb welcomed two shadows, junior Lyla Ingrilli and freshmen Addison Gottlieb. She was thrilled to have her daughter spend the day in her classroom and interacting with the children.


“It’s great for the students to get a hands-on experience,” Ms. Gottlieb said. “There’s so many decisions they have to make about careers so early, and this is a career they can see first-hand.”


At Mandalay Elementary School, sophomore Cameron Lonergan spent the day in Ashley Favata’s fourth grade class. Cameron helped supervise math stations, among other tasks throughout the day. She aspires to become an art teacher. 


“Shadow Day is great because it will teach kids my age what teachers do and how kids learn,” Cameron said. 


Junior Mattea Conforti was in Erin Joyce’s room for the day and enjoyed experiencing the day-to-day life of a teacher. Ms. Joyce said it was just as rewarding for her students, who were excited to ask Mattea questions about middle school and high school.


That’s exactly the point of Shadow Day, Ms. Compagnino explained, bringing kids, teens and adults together for a mutually beneficial partnership. 


“The teachers love it, the elementary kids look forward to it, and the high school students get such a good experience,” she said. 


Shadow Day

Shadow Day