Mrs. Theresa Napoli
6th Grade Social Studies and Religion Teacher, 8th Grade Enrichment
Education: B.A. in Anthropology, Colorado State University; MAT, Bridgewater State University.
When did you join the GCS community?
I came to GCS 19 years ago, after taking a few years off to be home for my son’s newborn and toddler years. Prior to that I taught at St. Raymond’s High School for Boys in the Bronx. I started out at GCS as an Art teacher, and then moved to the Upper School to teach Social Studies and Religion.
Are there any Rites of Passage that your 6th Graders look forward to?
Nature’s Classroom, of course! At the start of each school year, we take the entire 6th Grade to Massachusetts for a few days to participate in the Nature’s Classroom program. The program is structured to cover environmental and nature studies, as well as hands-on experiments - including dissection, which the kids love! The program is an unique way for our students to relate to each other outside of the classroom environment, which gives them a strong bond as they embark on their Upper School years together.
What are some units of study that your students find most engaging?
When students learn actively in class, whether by role playing farmer/potter bartering in the time of the Neolithic Revolution, or by creating cuneiforms in clay as an Ancient Sumerian scribe would have done, the lessons make an immediate impact with them. I also look for opportunities to study cross-over topics, like Ancient Egyptian culture and the time of Moses, so they gain a better understanding of how certain cultures and our religious history and traditions intersect.
What skills are you hoping your students take away from your class?
Public Speaking is something we spend a lot of time on in 6th Grade, across all subject areas. Students work on projects for both Social Studies and Religion throughout the year, and are given opportunities to present and even debate certain topics. I think it’s important for students to learn how to build and present an argument, and equally important to examine both sides of a topic.
What are you working on in your 6th Grade Enrichment program?
This year we’re focusing on the “History of American Music.” We kicked off the year with a general overview of music history, and soon we’ll start talking about the Civil War era and will end the year end current day. The students gain a better understanding of the cultural impact on music and what causes certain trends, especially in the time of Jazz, Big Band, Charleston, Swing and early Rock n’ Roll.
When you’re not teaching, what keeps you busy?
I enjoy spending time coaching our students and watching them improve from year-to-year. I coach the GCS Co-Ed Cross Country team, the 5th and 6th grade Girls Basketball and Varsity Softball teams, which keeps me very busy. On the weekends, gardening and other at-home projects help me relax.