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Getting to Know Mrs. Nardo

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Getting to Know Mrs. Nardo

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Mrs. Nardo has been teaching at Rye High School for 13 years. This year, she teaches AP Spanish, Spanish Advanced Communications, and Spanish 5 Honors. She is also the assistant coach of the Rye Girls’ Varsity Soccer team and the head of the Spanish Club. Also favorably called “Mooney” (her maiden name) by her students and players, Mrs. Nardo is known for her awesome energy and ability to make learning more exciting and interesting. 

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

A: Speak Spanish, travel, go to concerts (live music), run with my dogs. I will say I’m an excellent vacationer though, if I had to choose one of those.

Q: Besides teaching, what is something you are passionate about?

Well it’s kind of related to teaching, for me I’m passionate about getting out of the world that you live in, and exploring different worlds, whether that be a Spanish speaking world or not.

Q: I know you have traveled abroad to Spanish speaking countries. What is a memory from traveling that stands out to you?

A: Oh my God, I have so many memories! Memorable memories are either big successes or huge failures, and when you travel you have both of them, so let’s think of a big success. A big success was probably the first time I ran a trip without using a company, which was a yoga retreat to Costa Rica for adults. And, I had traveled in groups, I’d traveled a lot, but that was the first time I was in charge, like I did everything, I didn’t use a company, so that was really amazing. Lemme think of a big failure… Well, one of my biggest failures when I first started traveling was when I booked a flight for eight o’clock, I think probably from Madrid to Barcelona. I arrived at eight o’clock at night but didn’t realize that in Europe they use 24 hour time. So, my flight was not at eight o’clock at night, it was at eight o’clock in the morning, and I had missed my flight, so it was a little bit of a disaster. But you learn some things the hard way. But it was really great, because I got to spend an extra night where I was!

Q: What have you learned from experiencing different cultures?

A: I have learned… that’s a good question!… I think the one of the first things that seems obvious, but that not everyone lives like I do, and that there is no one right way to living your live, and I think that’s one of the most important things to understand. And sometimes when I arrive somewhere and say “Why are they doing this?” by the time I leave, I think “Why aren’t I doing this?” So it can totally change your perspective.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your career path and how you got to where you are now?

A: Yes, now, this part of it is secret in the sense that I dropped out of Spanish in high school. Not really a secret although I don’t tell that to everyone: but I did. I stopped taking Spanish in high school after my sophomore year. Simply because it didn’t fit in my schedule, my guidance counselor called me and said you can either take Spanish or math, my high school didn’t allow for both. And, when I went to college like many of our students will learn in the future, I had to take a language placement test that I also failed. I got a zero! Not even a one, or a two! A zero, out of 200 points. I was devastated. So I had to start taking Spanish over again. And, I will say that Spanish was hard for me, I had to study, which was probably why I didn’t like the idea of taking it again. It wasn’t a subject that came easy to me. So I took Spanish for a whole year to fill my requirement, and then I said, “I’m done with this. Done!” And I got very lucky, and that summer, I went to Spain, and that changed my life. So actually, my first experience in Spain my Spanish was very poor, and I realized what a disadvantage it was to be in this beautiful country with all this amazing culture and really not be able to communicate. So I felt really inspired to learn the language, which is why I think it’s really important to travel because that experience definitely changed my life. And then when I went back to school, I never knew I wanted to be a Spanish major, so I just kept taking Spanish classes, one a semester, because I was interested. Another reason I think students should take what they’re interested in. And then eventually, my counselor at school said, “You are a Spanish major.” I was like, “I don’t want to be a Spanish major, I’m a Psych major.” And she was like, “No no no, you are. You have enough credits.” So she kind of guided me into being a double major. And so I’m very grateful for her because she pushed me and inspired me and told me that this is a path that I should be following. And I didn’t even know I wanted to teach Spanish until I graduated. So, I would say I had kind of an untraditional path.

Q: You also coach the Rye Girls’ Varsity Soccer team. What led you into coaching?

A: Okay, I played soccer in college. When I decided where I wanted to go to college, the only thing I cared about, literally, was playing soccer. Frustrated my parents to no end. So, I applied to a bunch of schools, and it didn’t matter where I got in, I wanted to go somewhere where the coach wanted me to play. So when I graduated, I definitely wanted to keep soccer a part of my life, and I got really lucky when I came to Rye because it’s hard, I wanted to work with the varsity team, I didn’t want to be the head coach because I understand the time commitment. And they switched the season, girls used to play in the spring, when I was in high school we played in the spring. So when I arrived here, the second year, they switched the girls’ sports to the fall, and so the assistant coach of field hockey was the same as soccer, so she had to choose, and I was like, “Please choose field hockey!” So she chose field hockey, so I chose soccer. But, my life is not really complete without Spanish or soccer. My friends used to joke in college that I was the S’s: Spanish, soccer. Like, “You’re obsessed with anything that starts with an S.”

Q: What would you like the girls you coach to learn from you?

A: To learn, from me? Oh my Gosh, I don’t know! I’d love to know what they learn from me. I wish they’d learn to be positive, to work as a team; I think one of the most important things to learn in life is how to work along with others. And, being an athlete, at the level that we play here, the only reason we’re ever successful is because we work together, and that’s an invaluable lesson in life. And the balance between hard work, and a lot of fun, I think that there’s a really beautiful balance you can find in life. I can work really hard, as I feel like I do here, but I can also have a lot of fun and be joyous and enjoy it. One doesn’t have to eliminate the other. Sometimes people think, “If I work hard, it’s gonna be horrible,” but I don’t think it has to be that way.

Q: What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to your high school years?

A: Oh, I probably would’ve continued to study Spanish! I would’ve been like, “Stay in Spanish class.” Or maybe, I don’t know, that’s hard because my Spanish teachers were so boring, maybe I would never have then studied… No! You know what, I take it back, because if had continued taking Spanish, I wouldn’t have failed the placement test. No. No, that can’t be it, because my life would’ve been totally different. I always tell people I believe in that if you change one thing it changes everything, kind of like that Back to the Future vibe, so I’m nervous. I probably would’ve kept a journal more. I feel like so many cool things happened, and I feel like now, when I see my friends, it’s hard to remember everything. You guys have a lot of social media, pictures, and ways to remember that we didn’t have, so, for us it was words, but I didn’t value that as much. And it’s nice, to be able to have some specific memories, so that would’ve been a good idea. Something like that.

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Getting to Know Mrs. Nardo