The School of Education Class of 2020

May 30, 2020

For more than a century, The School of Education (SOE) at St. John’s University has shaped the next generation of teachers, counselors, and administrators with its commitment to professional development, scholarly research, moral values, and lifelong learning. Faculty are on the leading edge of new trends and innovative techniques, always broadening the horizons of the next generation of educators.

“Graduates from The School of Education have the unique opportunity to engage in intellectual discussions with a diverse group of St. John’s students and faculty,” said David L. Bell, Ed.D., Dean.

“Our programs are deeply rooted in exploring topics of equity, access, and advocating for systemic change. Our graduates leave with a passion for serving others for the greater good of humanity and the world.”

Here are six men and women who embody the knowledge, passion, and discipline the School instills in its students.

Alexandra Conanan

Alexandra Conanan is poised to begin her career as a school counselor after earning a Master of Science degree in School Counseling on St. John’s University’s Staten Island, NY, campus.

“I am extremely blessed to wake up every day knowing exactly what my dream career is and to be pursuing it. After my first day of class at St. John’s, I knew that I chose the career path that was meant for me,” said Alexandra, a Staten Island resident. She noted that as a school counselor, she will have the privilege of doing what she most loves: helping youth discover their own potential and develop skills that will equip them for all that life has to offer.

St. John’s School Counseling program fully prepares its students for their futures, according to Alexandra. “My professors were supportive and realistic in every class. They enhanced the material by sharing their own professional experiences and were accessible at any point for help, advice, or even just a check-in,” said the new graduate, who currently serves as Assistant Director of Prevention Services with United Activities Unlimited, Inc., a youth development agency on Staten Island.

Alexandra said she learned a lot about herself during her time at St. John’s. “I learned how to manage many responsibilities, how to cope with stress, how to take criticism constructively, and so much more.” 

Gianna Federico

Gianna Federico points to her brother in recounting her inspiration to become a special education teacher.

“My brother, Frankie, is differently abled, and he is the reason for my passion to work with children with disabilities,” said Gianna, who just completed her Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Childhood Education (grades 1-6) on St. John’s Staten Island campus. “Regardless of what happens in the future, my main goal is to help as many children and families as possible throughout my career as an educator.”

Gianna, who currently works for the New York State Education Department as a Substitute Paraprofessional, hopes to eventually open a day habilitation program for children with disabilities and plans to attend graduate school to earn a Master of Science in Education degree in Teaching Children with Disabilities (birth-grade 2).

During her time at St. John’s, Gianna enjoyed serving in various leadership roles, including as a Catholic Scholar. “St. John’s University and The School of Education faculty and staff instilled in me confidence, wisdom, and knowledge to help me be fully prepared to teach my own class one day.”

Elvira Garcia

A first-generation college graduate, Elvira Garcia will pursue a master’s degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education this fall at the State University of New York (SUNY) Plattsburgh.

“I definitely see myself in the field of education, whether I am in a K–12 setting or in higher education. I like working with young people; seeing their growth is a really rewarding and humbling experience,” said Elvira, who recently earned a Bachelor of Science in Childhood Education (grades 1-6), with a concentration in Sociology and a minor in Theology and Religious Studies, on the Staten Island campus. During her time at SUNY Plattsburgh, the Staten Island resident will work as Community Director in the Office of Campus Housing and Community Living.

Elvira developed her leadership talents through her participation in a wide variety of activities at St. John’s, including as a Catholic Scholar; as the first Teach for America Student Ambassador on the Staten Island campus; and as founder of Diversity, Acceptance, Language, and Education (¡DALE!), which focuses on the Hispanic and Latinx community. “Being a member of different clubs and organizations on campus allowed me to step out of my comfort zone,” she said. 

Elvira also credits St. John’s with fostering a greater knowledge of, and a deeper appreciation for, her Catholic faith. “This was new to me because I never went to a Catholic school before. I learned about the Vincentian values and what it means to be Vincentian: to serve those who are marginalized, advocate for those who suffer injustices, and be in community with those we serve. I will do my best to always carry out my Vincentian values in my work.”

Daniella Malliae

When Daniella Malliae attended Accepted Students’ Day at St. John’s, she immediately felt at home. “The student speaker discussed her experiences studying abroad and teaching in Rome, Italy, and that was exactly what I wanted to do,” she recalled.

The New Hyde Park, NY, native eventually spent a semester abroad teaching in a Rome middle school. “It is important for a teacher to differentiate material for students of various abilities and levels of English,” she noted. “This experience was invaluable and truly life changing. I would not trade it for anything.”

Daniella is in the Adolescent Education/Literacy (5-12), Bachelor of Science in Education/ Master of Science in Education program. “Another important reason why I decided to attend St. John’s is the five-year program in education with dual certification. I always knew I wanted to teach, and the University offers many invaluable opportunities for one to make advancements in the field and gain fundamental experience.”

Daniella spent last semester teaching at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, NY, and she will continue her studies in the fall. “When I graduate, I hope to teach either in New York City or abroad, and possibly further my education in a Ph.D. program,” she observed.

“At St. John’s, I broadened my cultural awareness and learned skills beyond those taught within the classroom,” Daniella said. “Additionally, I attended several mission trips with Campus Ministry, which were very rewarding and eye-opening. St. John’s gave me a deep understanding of the importance of selflessness, humility, and excellence.”

Tiffany Ann Muscio

Staten Island, NY, native Tiffany Ann Muscio wanted to stay close to home for college. When she first visited the Staten Island campus of St. John’s University, she immediately fell in love with its close-knit atmosphere.

“I wanted to develop meaningful relationships with my professors and fellow students—and I knew this was the place for that to happen,” she stressed. At St. John’s, Tiffany served as President of the Psychology Club and the St. John’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.

A Psychology major, Tiffany recently completed her Master of Science degree in School Counseling and is currently seeking a full-time position as a grade school counselor. “The School of Education is unique because they put students in the field immediately,” Tiffany observed. “They really make sure you get plenty of experience starting as soon as possible. These is just one reason why St. John’s is highly regarded.”

Nathan Perfetti

As long as he could remember, Adolescent Education major Nathan Perfetti wanted to be a science teacher; the Farmingdale, NY, native knew that The School of Education at St. John’s University would be the place to help realize his dream.

“The connections and dedication of the faculty drew me to St. John’s,” he explained. “I also love New York City, so studying there definitely meant a lot to me. I was able to go on countless adventures throughout my four years and am absolutely confident I made the right decision.”

While at St. John’s, Nathan participated in the Residency Internship for St. John’s Educators (RISE) program, which allowed him to student teach for an entire academic school year, rather than for one semester.

“I was placed at Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School, teaching Living Environment and AP Biology. I enjoyed this opportunity because I spent an entire year with students, teaching subjects about which I am most passionate. I feel fully prepared for my field because I experienced exactly what a teacher goes through every day.”

Nathan is grateful he attended St. John’s. “It definitely made me the man I am today,” he stressed, adding that he benefited from the wisdom and mentorship of many faculty members. “I hope to spread the same wisdom to my students and also to future aspiring educators.”

Nathan will attend a fellowship program for the next two years at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. “I entered a program in which I can work full time in a nearby high school while taking my graduate classes. I plan to get my master’s degree in Special Education because I believe all students are capable of learning. Some students may need some extra support, but that does not mean they cannot succeed in the classroom. I cannot wait to learn more about transforming my classroom into a positive learning environment for all students.”