Christine Germano Bonarrigo `73
I graduated from Manhattanville in 1973 with a BA in English and two teaching certifications, N-6 and 7-12 English/Language Arts, using everything successfully over the past 40 years. I began teaching at the Reading Institute in Boston as a reading tutor, followed by a position for the Dedham Public school system as an English teacher at their high school. After my husband finished law school we moved back to New York where I taught at Mamaroneck High School for several years. These were rewarding years where I was able to create English classes that suited the learning disabled student. I received my MSEd. at this time from Fordham University, as well as further certification in Special Education. Also at this time I was blessed with three wonderful children, John, Michael and Lisa. To continue teaching and still run a busy household, I gave up the daily high school position and taught morning classes a few days a week in reading, composition and American Literature at Pace University. Moving to Connecticut at this time was wonderful but I still needed to work closer to home with three growing children. So…I decided to use that first certification from Manhattanville and teach nursery school, eventually becoming a Director of a school in Darien, CT. But teaching high school English classes kept calling me.
In 2006, I took a position at New Canaan High School becoming their Reading Specialist and one of their English teachers. During this time I created the Reading Team, a group of interdisciplinary teachers learning about new ideas in reading education; I published an article on the Reading Team’s importance for school psychologists; I was interviewed by the NEA regarding test-taking strategies; and I developed the Literature of the Holocaust class, an elective for seniors, which probes various primary source materials of and about the period.
This past April I was awarded the Susan Goldberg Teaching Award from the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center in NY honoring a teacher who follows the same passion that Goldberg , an advocate for human rights, did in her English classroom. It has been the culminating experience of a long career that all started with the tools that Manhattanville gave me.
What being an alumna means to me...
When I think about Manhattanville, I have some of the fondest memories. It was my first venture away from home as it was for many of the women on the all female campus at the time. We were the recipients of some of the finest teaching, from the arts to the sciences. But Manhattanville taught us so much more. We learned to enjoy and appreciate the small things in life as well, like trudging through all types of weather for meals in the dining hall and discovering a beautiful idyllic landscape along the way or sitting in the castle for a religion class and realizing that you were sitting within a piece of historic architecture. Manhattanville taught us to listen to each other as we strove to find our place in the tumultuous world of the early 70’s. It taught us that women can and would do anything they set their minds to doing. And if one looks at some of the accomplishments of this particular class, one can see how successful Manhattanville was then and still is now. It will always hold a special place in my heart.