By Jessica Easthope
Filomena Piccolo feels at home in a bustling classroom, but when it’s time to settle down and learn, she never yells. Somehow her students know she means business. Ms. Piccolo has been a teacher at St. Peter Catholic Academy in Bensonhurst for 31 years.
“I had second grade here, I had third grade here and I had first grade here,” she said.
She’s seen thousands graduate – one even went on to become her principal.
“She was a teacher when I was here,” said Danielle Alfeo, the principal of St. Peter Catholic Academy. “I did not have the privilege of having her as a teacher but my brothers and my cousins did.”
Mrs. Alfeo says Ms. Piccolo is a joy to have as a teacher and a friend, especially when it’s time to take a stroll down memory lane while looking at old yearbooks from the early 1990s. Mrs. Alfeo says Ms. Piccolo’s dedication is unmatched.
“Anyone can come into a room and teach a bunch of children. You can bring your knowledge to the table, but bringing your heart to the table is a whole other story,” Mrs. Alfeo says. “She remembers the names of all the children she taught in all her 30 years.”
And Ms. Piccolo proved it as they flipped through the yearbooks. She remembered every kid and what each of them taught her.
“They say to teach is to learn twice, so it’s a learning experience for me. I can honestly say in my time here, the students have taught me a lot of things and it’s just helping the students to grow,” Ms. Piccolo said.
Her fourth grade students now say she teaches them things you can’t find in a book.
“She really helps us and understands us,” said Joshua Lee.
“She’s just not like the others. She’s unique and she gives us privileges that I don’t think we’ve had in any other grade,” Gabriella Parascando said.
Ms. Piccolo is also instructing them on how to stay true to their faith – just as she has every moment of her life and career.
“That’s important to me that I can be in a job where I can discuss my faith freely and share my faith with the students,” said Ms. Piccolo.
As for the next 30 years, Ms. Piccolo plans to do what she does best – she’s just getting started.
“God leads you to where you need to be, me staying here this is where He’s saying I need to be,” she said. “As long as I can do it, I plan to do it.”