Mrs. Conradi Comes out of Retirement to Save EHHS Italian Program

Mrs. Diane Conradi, who retired after the 2016-17 school year, came out of retirement to return full-time as the only Italian teacher at the East Haven High School. She came back last year to work part-time to teach two classes for the 2017-18 school year. This year she now returns to teach six classes, one more than all other teachers.

After Miss DeStefanis left the teaching staff to join another school district, EHHS was left with no full-time Italian teacher for this year. According to Mrs. Conradi, the administration interviewed teachers, but they were not able to fill the position. Mrs. Conradi, who originally planned on returning part-time for two periods, said, “I was talking to Mrs. Spadecenta, and I suggested that if they needed, I would come back full-time.” And that is exactly what happened. Knowing that if she did not return full-time the program would be dismantled, she wanted to come back for her students: “I felt badly because if they couldn’t hire anybody, I figured the kids [enrolled in italian] were all going to get a study hall and that wasn’t going to be good for them.” She is happy that her students get something out of her coming back and is glad she did it.

Conradi has returned to teach six periods, consisting of the classes Italian 1, Italian 2, Italian 3, and Fundamentals. She finds it to be an adjustment and a bit overwhelming but expresses that she likes her students and likes what she does. It is her first time teaching Fundamentals, so that is something she feels she needs to get used to. “It is different being the only Italian teacher because I can’t confer with anybody else about assignments or to talk about current events,” says Conradi who misses having Miss DeStefanis and feels that the hallway feels more deserted without another teacher.

When suggested that she has come out of retirement, Mrs. Conradi laughed and said that she guessed she has: “It’s strange and funny because two years ago I would have never expected this, I wouldn’t have seen it coming. Life presents you with opportunities and I chose to take this as a positive.” However, seeing Mrs. Conradi around the hallways is not a huge shocker because she did return last year part-time to teach two periods. “When I left I asked if they needed somebody part-time, would they consider me, and DeNuzzo said yes. It worked out that the enrollment was lower and they did not need a full-time teacher,” says Conradi who wanted to come back part-time and viewed it as good for her and for the school. She enjoyed only working part-time because it was it less stressful, and she still got to see her colleagues and take part in school activities.

The students are excited to see Mrs. Conradi return full time and are happy she did so. Senior Talia Ferraro, who is currently taking Italian 3 with Mrs. Conradi, explained that she took Italian 1 and 2 freshmen and sophomore year with Mrs. Conradi, but had to wait until senior year to take Italian 3 because it did not fit into her schedule last year as a junior. She is glad that Mrs. Conradi returned and says, “I wouldn’t want to take Italian without her.” In addition, senior Jenna Esposito, who took Italian 1, 2, and 3 with Mrs. Conradi freshman, sophomore, and junior year, shares this view saying, “She’s Mrs. Conradi, and she’s a saint. Obviously, she was going to come back. She loves what she does and her students love her.”

Mrs. Conradi plans and would love to come back part-time next year for the 2019-20 school year, as she had planned for this year. Whether or not she would return full-time is a difficult question: “I would need to think hard about this workload next year if they wanted me full-time. I would consider it, but I can’t say right off the bat yes I would.” At the end of the day, she knows the program is in danger and does not want to see it go for the sake of her students. She expresses her love for teaching and is happy to continue to do so, even though it is not part-time like she wanted.