As the school year is quickly coming to an end, some of Leesville’s teachers have decided to bring their teaching careers to a close. Angela Scioli, a member of Leesville’s Social Studies department, has been a member of The Pride since the school’s opening in 1993. After 28 years as a Leesville teacher, Ms. Scioli has decided that the 2020-2021 school year will be her final year as a teacher
Ms. Scioli teaches American History and AP Government and Politics–a class that is extremely fitting for one of her passions in politics.
So where did it all begin? A career as a high school teacher began while Ms. Scioli was in high school. “I had some amazing teachers. Women who created a new brand for me that I had never really seen before,” said Scioli via a video interview.
Inspired by two of her own high school teachers who showed her a new and exciting view into education, Ms. Scioli decided that a career in teaching is the path that she wanted to take.
Growing up, she had not seen women who were interested in politics, current events, and history until she reached high school, and two women would come to inspire her future career. “They [her teachers] modeled that [the combination of politics, current events, and history to help portray reality], and I thought it was so amazing that I wanted to be that,” said Scioli.
The state of North Carolina also contributed to her career in teaching. Without the intention of staying on a path of teaching, a scholarship that NC provided her with had some to do with her years as a teacher. “I intended to leave after my scholarship requirement of four years in teaching was complete, but then I realized that I just really loved teaching, so I stayed,” said Scioli.
Those two unexpected things, landing in a classroom of two influential women, and the state she lived in, were “the sweet spot” of what made Ms. Scioli want to become a teacher. One takeaway from her motivation to become a teacher — “never underestimate the power of public policy to create new realities on the ground.”
As a member of the Leesville community for almost three decades, one can imagine how much Ms. Scioli has seen Leesville transform (and not transform). The biggest transformation of Leesville has been in technology. When Scioli first started teaching at Leesville, there was hardly even an emailing system. To depict the lack of technology at Leesville, while laughing, she describes a photography studio that was once a part of the school. “I mean we even had a photography studio at the school where you developed black and white pictures using chemicals and stuff,” said Scioli.
While telling another story about the early years at Leesville, she describes the staff’s first run in with email, and you cannot help but let out a laugh. “I’ll never forget — my favorite story is with me and Paul Dinkenor [another faculty member who has been teaching since LRHS’s opening]… Me and Paul got called, in like 1995, to the Media Center to learn about this thing called email. I remember us sitting next to each other and we were learning about it, and we looked at each other like when are we ever going to use this,” told Scioli.
Oh how Leesville has seriously transformed. To add on to the humor of the situation, during their workshop it was unclear to her at the time that email would be going out of the school building. It was assumed to simply be a means of communication within the school building, between the faculty members.
With an advancement in technology, Leesville has also not transformed in some ways. One of those ways being the specialty of the staff. “We have been unbelievably fortunate to attract some of the best teaching talent that I could have ever imagined in the world.” Many know that Ms. Scioli is the founder of the Red4EdNC non profit organization in support of a quality public school education. So while being someone who is incredibly engaged in the public school system in North Carolina, she recognizes that Leesville is lucky to have “attracted so many brilliant people” despite the way teachers are treated in the state.
In order to stay a motivated educator, you must find something you truly love about the job. Ms. Scioli’s favorite thing about being a teacher is the meaningful discussions she has with her students. “Everyday I get to wake up and listen to the news and listen to podcasts, and just listen and attend to what’s going on in the world. And then I get to frame it, think about it, package it, and deliver it to my students in a way that we can have really exciting, fruitful conversations,” said Scioli.
While realizing that not every student is excited to talk about history and politics at a young age, Ms. Scioli has embraced what she calls the “fire carriers.” She recognizes that every year at least five of her students in class, the “fire carriers,” are genuinely interested in the discussion of politics and history. So, although not every student is pumped about the discussions she has to offer, those few students have kept her going. “I really just show up everyday to help those students continue on their journey of learning, and so it’s just really fun,” said Scioli.
For several years that is what engaging in the news has provoked in Ms. Scioli, so understandably, creating content for her students, and providing a safe space for them to talk about and discuss controversial subjects is something she is really going to miss.
When asked what Leesville has taught her, Ms. Scioli simply responded, “What hasn’t Leesville taught me? It’s sort of been the center of my existence.”
But one specific thing Leesville has taught her is how constant improvement and dedication is worthy work; furthermore, what sustainable life can look like and how to build it. Ms. Scioli continues to work to build a sustainable life, recognizing that in her early years of teaching she was not very successful at that. “So, I hope in this next chapter of my life that I will do better in that sense of bringing a sense of balance in the way that I work in the world,” said Ms. Scioli. Leesville has ultimately taught her her limitations, and “that is not a bad thing.”
While spending so many years being a teacher, Ms. Scioli is certainly going to miss some “young people.”
“Adolescents are just so cool, they are like in process, and they are becoming, and that is an exciting process.” She will also miss feeling included in the Leesville community in a fundamental way.
Leesville will always be a part of Ms. Scioli, but she has a few more years of being connected to the school directly. Even though she will no longer be a Leesville teacher, she gets to call herself a Leesville parent as her eldest daughter is now a freshman at the school.
Beyond being connected to the school as a Leesville parent after retirement, she will always be connected to the Murphy Scholarship as a co-chair. She plans to continue doing the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning (an event that started this school year) for years to come. “You did invest 28 years of your life into an institution and then not continue to be a part of it. I am a Leesville For-Lifer,” said Scioli. And that she is.
To Ms. Scioli: on behalf of LRHS and a former student of yours, thank you.