Women’s History Month: The Brilliant Women of the Salesian Community

Junior Writer Marco La Vecchia ’22

Women’s History Month

Why Women’s History Month? 

Isn’t it obvious? Women are amazing teachers, pioneers, leaders, people worth studying, people worth learning about, strong, admirable, powerful influences, you name it!

But Why Women’s History Month?

Well, who was a target of systemic suppression for thousands of years? You know, the same multitude that accomplished so many awesome things for themselves and for the world? Like Eileen Collins, who was the first of this multitude to be a pilot and commander of a Space Shuttle, or Mary Lou Williams, who was a renowned American jazz pianist? You know, the same multitude that are the embodiment of the word resilience because of the UNJUSTIFIED OPPRESSION they overcame to have a political voice!?

It’s women.

So why women’s history month? Because we need it. 

History of Women’s History Month

Firstly, Women’s History Month began as Women’s History Week, and Women’s History Week began as International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day was first celebrated on March 8, 1911. Later in 1981, Representative Barabara Mikulski of Maryland and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah launched settlements to appropriate the week of March 8th, International Women’s Day, as Women’s History Week. This came into fruition in 1977.

Congress decided a couple years later to make all of March Women’s History Month, and rightfully so. 

Women in History

In every aspect of history, we find more and more women who have made significant contributions to history, and often their contributions go underappreciated. So thank you Eleanor Roosevelt for your work towards both women’s and civil rights. Thank you Althea Gibson for breaking the color barrier as the first African-American Female tennis player. Thank you Candice Pert, who expanded our knowledge on how the brain works by discovering the opiate receptor in the brain. Thank you to all women throughout history.

How the Salesian Spectator Wants to Remember Women’s History Month

In order to celebrate women’s history month, the Salesian Spectator wants to commemorate the amazing women within the Salesian Community. Everyday, they help Salesian function and are a reason Salesian can call itself a home, a school, a parish, and a playground. So do us here at the Salesian Spectator a favor: share a few kind thoughts with a woman in your life that inspires you, whether at Salesian or not, and thank them. If they ever helped you out, or they show a characteristic that you find admirable, and you never thanked them or mentioned it to them, do it now. 

The Salesian Spectator wants to send our thanks and admiration to ALL of the women in the Salesian. Below are some of the amazing women we wish to show our gratitude by having them share about themselves:

(The Following Contains bios featuring some of Salesian’s Female Faculty)

Meet Ms.
Angela Blandino

Biology & Advanced Placement Psychology

I have been a part of the Salesian Community since 2018 and have enjoyed my time teaching students in both Biology and AP Psychology. A little background about myself, I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY with my parents and three brothers. I attended Catholic school all throughout my elementary and high school years. I went to Saint Francis Xavier and Preston High School, participating in the cheerleading team and theatre programs. After graduating, I went on to study and receive a Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Manhattanville College where I later then received my Master’s degree in Secondary Science Education. Aside from educating my students, I have been the cheerleading coach at Ardsley High School in Ardsley, NY for the past four years. 

During my time there, I have been able to coach my team to qualify for the National Cheerleading competition as well as becoming Regional Champions. During my time at Salesian High School, I have been able to not only educate my students in the different subjects that I teach, but also provide them with insight into the real world. My favorite thing about being an educator is having the opportunity to get to know each of my students outside of the classroom. I would have to say that is one of the biggest rewards working as an educator, knowing that you not only get to reach your students academically but we are allowed to have insight on their day to day challenges they may face and hopefully help them in any way. The biggest challenge would have to be getting a student to become invested in a subject that they aren’t interested in. As teachers, we understand that some students may not always think what you teach is the most interesting so we have to go the extra mile to make concepts that much more attainable to grasp onto. 

One of my biggest long term goals as an educator is to hopefully further my education. Whether it’s getting an additional Master’s in Educational Leadership or Special Education it has always been something that I have wanted to achieve. A short term goal would be to get my additional certification in teaching students in grades 5-8. I have worked with students of all ages, so why not get an additional credential for it?

Some words of encouragement for my Salesian community, specifically my students is don’t let the fear of failure stop you from achieving your goals. Always strive to the best you can absolutely be and just to believe in yourselves!

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

— Margaret Thatcher

“Women belong in all places where decision are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.

— Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Meet Mrs.
Noreen McGovern

Administrative Assistant to the Principal

Mrs. McGovern handles all the communication, appointments, and paperwork through Principal Chisolm and Assistant Principal Chambers. She also works hand in hand with the Archdiocese of New York. Mrs. McGovern stands as the Mother figure of Salesian to all the boys and staff members because of her caring and nurturing nature. She gives everyone the best advice and better understanding of the real world. 

“I love coming back because of the boys. They are like my sons. I want to be a part of their life and see them reach the finish line!” 

“We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voice

— Sheryl Sandberg

“I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or child can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak.”

— Harriet Beecher Stowe

Meet Mrs.
Adriana Cioce

Upperclassmen Guidance counselor

My name is Adriana Cioce and I am an Italian-American Catholic born and raised in the Bronx. I am the youngest of two daughters in my family, and I got married in July 2017. I attended St. Theresa School as a child and am still a proud member of that parish. I then attended Preston High School, where I participated in both the Preston and Salesian shows, so I feel like I have been a part of the Salesian community for a long time. For my post-secondary education, I moved on to Iona College where I majored in Psychology and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree. After this, I received my Master’s Degree in School Counseling at Hunter College. After graduate school, the school that I was interning with offered me a part-time college advising position that I did for one year until receiving an offer from Salesian.  

I began working at Salesian High School in the 2015-2016 school year. In my first year I was hired as just the freshmen guidance counselor, and also taught a class to freshmen called ‘High School Skills’. By my second year, I was the guidance counselor for both freshmen and sophomores and had worked with the underclassmen up until this year. I am currently one of the junior and senior counselors. I am also a member of the Youth Ministry Team.

I have really enjoyed my time working at an all-boys school so far. Firstly, the students keep the school environment light-hearted and fun always, which makes it easier and enjoyable to come to work every day. As one of the few women in the building, I also like offering the female perspective when I can in certain situations in order to help the students become the best gentlemen they can be. Overall, the most rewarding part is seeing the progression of the students from freshman to senior year. Most often start out as quiet young boys uncertain about who they are or what they want out of life, but soon develop into grown, personable, and confident young men.  

As a female guidance counselor in particular, a challenge that I have had to face is finding different ways to approach counseling and interacting with the students to make them feel comfortable enough to come and talk to me about certain situations that ordinarily they may have only thought about speaking to a male about. Also, on a school-wide level, it can be challenging to have your voice and opinion be heard in such a male dominated environment, but this has pushed me to become more assertive for which I am grateful. 

The main short term goal I have right now is probably just to stay focused and dedicated to my work in order to finish this unconventional school year as strongly as possible. 

Some general long term goals I have are to start a family of my own one day, as well as to continue to grow and be satisfied in my field whether that is moving up in position or just developing new skills. 

“The past year has been so challenging for all of us in many different ways. However, it is important to keep the hope alive that we will see better and brighter days soon and will be together as a full community again.”

Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet. In fact, often times, the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe you must become its soul.”

— Coretta Scott King

Meet Mrs.
Maria Guerreiro

Financial Assistant

Mrs. Guerreiro’s everyday tasks consist of day to day finances such as tuition, deposits and bookkeeping for the school. She also enjoys creating authentic connections with families and her being bilingual aids her in doing this. She has loved Salesian from the very begging when she started working here five years ago.

“I love it here. Connecting and giving guidance to the families and kids is what makes me comeback. Being bilingual, I can assist with the families that need help because of their language. It allows me to have close conversations with them and I enjoy being able to be the one that can make their experience easier!” 

“More and more women are realizing that only collective strength and action will allow us to be free to fight for the kind of society that meets basic human needs.”

— Roxanne Dunbar

“There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

— Virginia Woolf

Meet Mrs.

Carmela Fava-Gabriel

Director of the Guidance Department

My name is Carmela Fava Gabriel. First and foremost, I am a wife and mother of two beautiful boys, aged four and one. I am one of five children – the second in line and first girl. I grew up in Yonkers and attended Catholic school growing up, which had a great impact on my path in life.

I graduated from Pace University in Pleasantville as an Undergraduate, moved on to earn a Master of Arts in School Counseling and just graduated from St. John’s University with an Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership.

Upon graduating from college, I started teaching Earth Science Regents at a private, all girls Catholic high school. Shortly after starting my teaching career, I decided to instead pursue my Masters degree in School Counseling. Counseling would afford me the opportunity to reach students outside the classroom. I truly loved watching the progress and success of my students from September through June, but wanted to know more about them as a whole person. While I miss being in the classroom from time to time, I love having the chance to help students bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood academically, socially and emotionally.

I moved from Teacher to Counselor to Director of Guidance at Good Counsel Academy. Upon the school closing, I was fortunate enough to be offered a position as Director of Guidance at Salesian High School.

Watching a student grow in any aspect is the most rewarding – whether that growth has to do with successfully passing a difficult course, moving into the Honors Program, overcoming the fear of joining a club or sport for the first time, getting into a college or developing healthy relationships with peers. I love that I work with people and that their individuality comes out as we work through different issues. Growth is always different depending on who is in front of me, and I love that everyday is different.

When I first began working at Salesian High School during the 2015-2016 school year, it was an adjustment trying to reach students in the same way I could reach the girls at my former school. Many times, boys are not as forthcoming or verbal about their feelings, but once a rapport is built, talking and problem solving becomes easier. Something I love about Salesian: there is someone here for every student. At Salesian, students can confide in their teachers, counselors, and administrators. Thanks to our Mission, every single adult is here to support the students and, as a Counselor, this facilitates the process of helping our young men grow into adults.

A short term professional goal of mine is to help students get through the end of this very difficult year. It is very challenging to be supportive when most students are not on campus, but we must work around these circumstances and go out of our comfort zone. I’m hopeful next year will be “more normal,” and I hope to be instrumental in every student’s transition back to Salesian. A long term professional goal of mine is to hold more of a leadership role in the school.

“Every day is a new day, and I think this is particularly important to remember this year. I want students to know they are not stuck; they can better their circumstances. This change, though, comes with effort, hard work and courage – and everyone at Salesian is here to cheer them on! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”

— Michelle Obama

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant to be your own person, be independent”

— Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Meet Mrs.
Cynthia Chambers

Assistant Principal of Academics

 I was born in Brooklyn, NY and am the oldest of six children.  My husband and I met during my college years when we both worked at Camp Oakhurst,  a summer camp for disabled children and adults. We have been married for 24 years and have three children (Sarah Rose, Henry and Katherine). My favorite things about living in the Bronx are the diversity of our community and the fellowship of our parish, St. Benedict’s 

I attended a Catholic elementary school in early childhood followed by public schools in Manhattan and finally the Bronx High School of Science.  I earned a BA in Social Studies Education from the University of Delaware.  Once I began teaching Social Studies at Msgr. Scanlan High School, I earned a Master degree in American History from Fordham University.  I continued to teach at Msgr. Scanlan High School and was a part of their faculty for a total of 17 years.  I earned a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration from the College of St. Rose and moved on to Preston High School.  At Preston I was first Dean of Studies and then Assistant Principal of Academics.  It was my pleasure to join the Salesian team this summer. 

Having now had the opportunity to work in a Co-Ed High School, an all girls school and now an all boys school I will admit that there are advantages and challenges to each setting.  It seems to me that one of the advantages of an all boys environment is that young men can be more fully themselves.  I have not yet encountered a challenge that is unique to an all boys setting, although I am sure there are some.  

My short term goal is to learn all of the names of the members of the class of 2021 before their graduation.  My long term goal is to develop a more complete understanding of the methods and mission of St. John Bosco.

“I hope in the midst of this challenging year no one in the Salesian community ever forgets that each one of us is loved individually and beyond measure by God.”

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”

— Maya Angelou

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Meet Ms.

Ariana Garcia

I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. I grew up in a house with my parents and two sisters. I am a proud alumni of Cardinal Spellman High School. It was honestly the best years of my life. My very close friends attended Spellman and it is also where I met my husband! When it was time for college, I wanted to attend Iona College so badly! My parents tried reasoning with me that attending Iona would not be, financially speaking, a good idea. Like most parents, they were right! I received my Bachelors at The City College of New York, located in Harlem, NY. I am currently completing my Masters at Mercy College, expecting to graduate this May. My years in City College and Mercy College prepared me for my role here in Salesian High School. I am an English teacher currently teaching freshman and juniors. Though I previously worked in middle school for six years, it is an amazing experience working here in Salesian. 

English is not every boys’ favorite subject. I often hear “I was never good in ELA” or “I hate typing essays!” The subject itself discourages them from trying their best. It is great that the boys are comfortable enough to communicate their difficulties with me. I try to find different approaches to change their perspectives of literature. When I see the “light bulb” go off in their head, which does not happen everyday, but when it does, it’s a great feeling. In the process of changing their perspectives, we often joke about topics related to the class text. It allows them to build a connection with the content.  I feel very fortunate to have them as my students!

One of my long term goals is to hopefully become a Literacy Coach. I would love to help other educators overcome challenges. As soon as I graduate this year, I hope to become more involved with Salesian’s extracurricular activities. It is a short term goal of mine to become more proactive here in Salesian.

“Passion is the log that keeps the fire of purpose blazing”

— Oprah Winfrey

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”

— Maya Angelou

Meet Mrs.
Lisa Correale

Receptionist & Administrative Assistant to the President

I attended the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Manhattan College and Iona College where I completed my degree in Education and Psychology.

My first teaching experience was at Holy Rosary School in the Bronx. I taught a self-contained fourth grade class. I then switched grade levels and became the seventh and eighth grade Religion, Math and Science teacher.

My next teaching experience was a Holy Name of Jesus School (later became Holy Family School) in New Rochelle. I continued to teach sixth, seventh and eighth grade Religion, Math and Science. I was also involved in tutoring programs throughout the years to help students reach their academic goals.

I also enjoyed teaching a Math Enrichment Summer Program to incoming freshmen at Salesian High School.

The rewards of teaching are numerous. You make a difference every day in your students’ lives. Teaching is a profession that creates all other professions and allows opportunity for a student to become enthusiastic about their future. The influence of a teacher can never be erased, they make a lasting impression on their students’ lives.

The challenges you are faced with as a teacher is making sure that you connect with your students on some level. You must be able to understand their emotional needs along with their academic needs. A teacher needs to be aware that a student does not drop off their personal lives at the classroom door and would be ready to learn. You need to be in tune with each student so you are sensitive to their needs for that day.

Now that I am at Salesian High School as an Administrative Assistant it allows me to understand the other side of education. I realize now how much effort goes into the daily office work that makes a school day run smoothly. I am finding it interesting to learn about the many other facets that make a school successful.

The Salesian Community has warmly welcomed me and I am happy to be a part of this wonderful school. I am proud to say that my both sons, Christopher and Stephen graduated from Salesian High School. They both had positive experiences at Salesian and are now successful in each of their careers. Salesian played a big role in getting them ready for their future endeavors.

I would like to continue my career in education and will be open to any new avenue that would be offered to me in thefuture.

“The need for imagination, as a sense of truth, and as a feeling of responsibility these are the three forces which are the very nerve of education.”

— Rudolph Stein

“I can if I want to… because that’s my business”

— Tabitha Brown

Meet Sr.
Barbara Wright

Academic Support

Sr. Barbara started as a math teacher at Salesian before working her way up to becoming apart of the administration in 1988. She is driven by her love for helping the youth just as St. Don Bosco did. Sr. Barbara is the backbone on the success of Salesian because of her determination and dedication!

“I always had a desire to help the youth by touching their lives on any way I can. I stay because I am still able to make that impact” 

Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to teach his or her goal.

— Dorothy Height

“People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things”

— Edmund Hillary

Meet Mrs.
Vittoria Siefring

Assistant to the Guidance Department

Mrs. Siefring is the backbone and foundation of the Guidance Department. She makes sure of all the events and operations in the department.

“I love it at Salesian and being around the boys. The thought of looking at all the beautiful faces every day is a blessing. Connecting with the families and community makes everything worth it!”

“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

— Maya Angelou

“Don’t ever make a decision based on fear. Make a decision based on hope and responsibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t”

— Michelle Obama

Meet Mrs.
Liza Marku

My name is Liza Marku I am excited to have been given this opportunity to be able to work alongside with the parents/guardians of Salesian High School in building home/school connection to ensure academic success for your boys during this school year because every student that I have in my classroom is unique and a gift from God. 

I received my Master’s Degree in Mathematics/Business Administration and Minor in Philosophy from Pace University. 

My long term goal is make math easy to understand, fun, engaging, dare to try difficult things with determination and satisfaction, and improve each moment as it flies quickly.

My teaching philosophy is Christ-Centered, and built upon fairness, sensitivity, expectations, feedback and understanding for all learners. With hard work, positive attitude, excited to learn and grow with peers along with the support between school and home, your child will leave this class at the end of the year filled with joy and accomplishments.

“My message to the Salesian community is to connect with students, parents, that helps us create a culture that allows for different types of learning by giving students skills to think critically, deliver instructions where students are asked to remember, understand, engage, analyze, apply, evaluate, and create.”

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

— Ruth Bader Ginsberg

“”When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit. So let’s keep going—let’s keep going until every one of the 161 million women and girls across America has the opportunity she deserves to have.”

— Hillary Clinton