She was born on Long Island, coming north after she graduated high school to attend Fulton Montgomery Community College. It was while at FMCC she kept running into a good looking guy with blonde hair, who always seemed to be playing cards in the student union. She ended up getting her teaching degree, marrying the blonde guy, raising three wonderful kids and putting together a stellar career as one of the most beloved school teachers to ever grace a Greater Amsterdam School District classroom. My own youngest daughter does not throw around praise too easily but after completing close to twenty years of formal education she still considers Joanne Sollecito to be the best teacher she ever had.
Joanne’s classrooms were real-world examples of warm and welcoming learning environments. Her specialties were science and reading. She spent weeks of her summers attending science camps and teaching seminars to refine her professional skills. One of her most effective techniques was her creation of a grow lab, which enabled her students to learn about living things by creating their own living things and observing them evolve and grow. Her former students will tell you that lab in Joanne’s class was a key reason why they went on to major in science in college and choose science-related career fields.
She also had an amazing ability to inspire her students (including my daughter) to develop a passion for reading. She did this by taking the time to to have wonderful one-on-one conversations with each of them on a comfortable sofa she made part of her classroom. She used what she learned about students during their couch conversations to help them select books she knew would appeal to them . Though she taught in a small community where everyone seemed to know everyone else, she made it a point to never assume anything about any of her students, regardless of what she might have heard from others or what was written down in folders. Each and every kid in her class started with a completely clean slate. She never loudly or angrily demanded they work hard, she just made it very clear that was what she expected them to do and the vast majority of her young minions did just that because they wanted to please a wonderful teacher who made them feel special.
She started teaching at Bacon in the 1970’s and then took a leave to raise three children. When she returned she was assigned to fifth grade at McNulty and from there she went to Middle School, where she finished her career.