Zoe Sugar: Where did you grow up?
Mrs. Constantine: I grew up in Astoria Queens, in New York City, in a neighborhood mostly comprised of immigrants from Greece and Italy. The people that lived in my area took great pride in preserving their culture. The families there were very close, the people were always welcoming.
ZS: How would you describe yourself in three words?
Mrs. C: I would describe myself as a creative, nurturing, and sensitive person. Being a sensitive person can be a really good thing but at the same time it could be a flaw.
ZS: I can totally understand where you are coming from! What were you teenage years like in high school?
Mrs. C: Well, I wish I could say that my teenage years in high school were positive, they were not for the most part. I was a very smart student, and I was in most honors classes until high school. Then my family began having problems. The fighting made it really hard for me to concentrate in school. I even started cutting classes in high school, and if it wasn’t for Ira Zaiff, a counselor of a special program in my school for at risk students, then I would have been lost and may not have graduated High School. Ira Zaiff was like a second father to me.
ZS: Wow! Did you play any sports in school?
Mrs. C: No I did not. I was not athletic. I was raised to be very fearful about getting hurt. As a kid I mostly did things like draw, sing, and make little stories.
ZS: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
Mrs. C: I remember taking an introductory literature class in college, and I remember being so inspired by my professors. I also liked to write at the time. I realized that if I were an English teacher I would always be around literature and I would enjoy being with the subject. Another reason why I wanted to become a teacher was because I thought that I could be like my wonderful mentor, Ira Zaiff, and help out my students in need just like he did for me. And I thought I had the qualities to be a good teacher.
ZS: How long have you been teaching for?
Mrs. C: Around 22 years, I taught in New York City for 15 years, in Washington Heights, Queens, and Brooklyn. In Miami, I taught in Little Havana, Westchester, and now Hebrew Academy.
ZS: Which classes do you teach in the school?
Mrs. C: I teach tenth grade English, both College Prep and Honors. I teach AP Language and Composition. During first semester I taught improvisation as an elective class.
ZS: How have you been liking Hebrew Academy so far?
Mrs. C: I enjoy working here. I have never taught in a private or religious school, so this was definitely a new experience for me. I see that your community is so close and loving, and how your faith brings you together. I just think it is so great that I am also able to learn and understand more about the Jewish lifestyle as well.
ZS: I heard you are putting together a Shakespeare competition, that must be exciting! How is it going so far?
Mrs. C: Yes! It has been amazing. It is such a privilege to get to work with the students for the competition. Working with Shakespeare’s writing is one of my favorites. It is wonderful to see the progress the students make. The students have given me a wonderful memory here, I feel very lucky.
By: Zoe Sugar (10th grade)