Becky Mazzara returns after updating her license

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Photo by Brianne Johnson

ASL teacher Becky Mazzara is back teaching after a license issue. She is very excited to be back doing what she loves, teaching ASL to students.

Brianne Johnson, Layout Editor

ASL teacher Becky Mazzara has returned to teaching. In August, Mazzara found out she would not teach this year unless her license was up to state standards. Mazzara spent the last few months working on her state teaching portfolio, so she could return to what she loves most, teaching.

“When she found out, she rallied to complete the tasks necessary to regain her role here because she very much wants to be here,” English Teacher Kim Thompson said.

Mazzara never imagined herself as a teacher. Before teaching, she was a caseworker for Washington county. While working for Washington county, Mazzara often found herself unable to complete her job because she could not communicate with people and she did not have time to wait for the interpreters.

“I was tired of always waiting for an interpreter for my non verbal cases. I needed to communicate with these people. After a while, I started taking some sign language classes, just so I could communicate with them on a basic level,” Mazzara said.

Mazzara started to enjoy the sign language classes she was taking. She decided to expand her love for sign language by starting some of her own classes.

“I loved it and I kept going with it. I started a baby signing class and after that I decided to go even farther and I started teaching for community classes and I loved teaching basic ASL to families and kids,” Mazzara said.

Even with her growing love for sign language, Mazzara never thought she would become a high school teacher. Then in 2001, she received a call that changed her career.

“She is passionate about her subject and her role as a teacher. This has a ripple effect on other teachers and her students. Because she is energized and compassionate and delights in youth, students are drawn to her and feel safe with her. It is clear that she likes kids and that goes a long way with young people””

— Kim Thompson

“I got a call one day and they told me they needed a cover for an ASL class for one trimester. I told them I wasn’t a teacher, that I didn’t have a license or a degree. They told me it was okay. It is just temporary until we find someone. That was in 2001,” Mazzara said.

Over time, Mazzara’s temporary position turned into a much more permanent one. She became the new assistant NHS advisor with history teacher Chris Engler. When he retired, she took over completely.

“I learned about NHS from Chris Engler. He started telling me about what they do and I watched them through the years and I thought it was a really cool program. Then I became the assistant advisor and then when he retired I took over,” Mazzara said.

Mazzara was a perfect fit for the NHS program. She is an important advisor and teacher due to her dedication of helping students succeed, her warm and welcoming personality and her incredible patience.

She shows tolerance and patience with those who struggle, the sort of students who expect an elective to require less of them. She assures them if school is not a place they wish to be, they can at least spend one hour in a meaningful and stimulating room, where they can learn without feeling overwhelmed. Where their studies are not absurdly easy, but still manageable.

“I knew about this. I started the portfolio process two years ago. I was told by the state to not complete the portfolio until they have the system set up entirely. While I was waiting the school had an applicant who had completed her portfolio, by law they had to give the position to her,” Mazzara said. “I found out in August it was really devastating because I love teaching. I love Stillwater High. I immediately went to work to finish my portfolio.”

Mazzara’s absence was hard for many students and staff members. Mazzara has had a positive effect on a large number of students and staff.

“She is passionate about her subject and her role as a teacher. This has a ripple effect on other teachers and her students. Because she is energized and compassionate and delights in youth, students are drawn to her and feel safe with her. It is clear that she likes kids and that goes a long way with young people,” Thompson said.

“Her absence was very difficult for me because I was unable to speak to her in person about NHS,” Grant Auleciems senior and NHS President added.

Mazzara has completed her portfolio and is waiting for the states approval, she plans on teaching for as long as possible.

“I love teaching, I love helping students and I love this school,” Mazzara said.