Marist Alumna Innovating Spanish Curriculum
— As an educator, Kristin Mancini has dedicated her professional life to teaching Spanish in innovative ways. Mancini '04 was a Spanish major at Marist with an education concentration. She’s now the district world language instructional coach for Branford Public Schools in Connecticut, a post that includes a number of unique programs to teach languages to students.
In one program, Spanish students in Mancini’s district wrote simple concept children’s books in Spanish to donate to an organization that welcomes refugees from Mexico and Latin America. The books are geared to be a source of comfort as the children will receive handmade books in their native language from the students. The project was recently featured on local news in Connecticut.
“This is a challenging time for the refugees as many refugee families are currently being sent back to their countries of origin due to Covid,” said Mancini. “The books the students made will be a source of comfort for the refugee children as the children will receive handmade books in their native language.”
Mancini does considerable work re-imagining World Language curriculum and credits her Marist experience as being instrumental in her path to success. Mancini attributes her proficiency in Spanish to the time she spent abroad in Spain through the Marist Study Abroad Program after receiving the Brother Joseph Belanger Scholarship.
“In Madrid, I lived with a lovely madrileña who really helped me become confident speaking the Spanish language,” said Mancini. “Living in Madrid was some of the very best days of my life, to this day. Not a week goes by that something doesn't remind me of my time abroad.”
As a student teacher while attending Marist, she worked directly with Spanish teachers at both Spackenkill High School and Orville Todd Middle School locally. She also mentions Dr. Kevin Gaugler as a lifelong mentor. Mancini says with his support on campus, she began the first chapter of Sigma Delta Pi at Marist.
“I chose Marist because of the teachers in the Language department and remember coming on a tour and meeting some of them, and feeling so welcome and comfortable in a small learning environment where I knew I could learn.”
As for what lies ahead, Mancini says world language instruction has shifted quite a bit in recent years. She says she’s been focusing her coaching on supporting teachers with the shift to a more proficiency-based model of instruction.