Staff Spotlight: Amy Cancellieri
Posted on 03/14/2024
Amy Cancellieri

Staff Spotlight: Amy Cancellieri


Amy Cancellieri is a third grade teacher at Langford Elementary School in her 13th year as an educator. She brings a lot of energy and inspiration to her classroom as her students are encouraged to not only learn from her but also from one another.

“Mrs. Cancellieri is an exceptional educator. She shines as a teacher who wants to know each and every one of her students. She makes sure that every day there's an opportunity for her students to grow as learners, as leaders,” said Langford Principal Cynthia Callahan.

In addition to working with her classroom students, Cancellieri also hosts student teacher interns from UConn each year and works with other teachers at Langford to share her strategies and style.

Callahan said, “Mrs. Cancellieri has really taken the lead this year with working with our other educators, helping them to understand effective strategies, things that really work to get our students talking, sharing, learning from one another, and really the center of the classroom.”

Learn more about Amy Cancellieri in the Q&A below.


How long have you been an educator? Walk us through your career thus far.

Cancellieri: This is my 9th year in East Hartford and my 9th year in third grade. I've taught 13 years. I taught four years before I had my kids, I stayed home with them for 12 years, and then I came back into East Hartford and this is my ninth year here.

I just knew I always wanted to go back to teaching. It's where I feel the most confident. It's where I'm the happiest. I love working with kids. I love seeing them develop their skills and to learn and to become the best versions of themselves. So I always knew I wanted to get back into the classroom.

I taught fifth grade, I taught sixth, but this is my favorite. I say that every time, but third graders, honestly, I really love how they're so inquisitive, how they want to learn, how they're motivated and how they love to share.

What does your classroom look like when you’re engaged in the teaching and learning process?

Cancellieri: I have a very active classroom. We do have a lot of EL learners that are learning English, so that's kind of affected the way that I've taught.

Putting a learning objective on the board is probably the easiest thing of my day, but the most complicated thing is thinking about how I'm going to get them to reach that learning objective. So I kind of think three things throughout the day. Number one is always, what can I do as a teacher to get my students to learn the skill I want them to learn? Do they need vocab words? Do they need background knowledge? Do they need peer share modeling strategies?

Then once I figure out what they need from me, I think about a way I can get them involved into the learning. You'll see that I use a lot of interactive whiteboards. I try to get them talking and communicating, standing up, being responsible for their own learning. I like to hear what they have to say. I don't really want them just mimicking my strategy. I want them to develop their own strategy.

And then thirdly, I always think, are they going to be able to teach this to someone else? Because is that not the ultimate goal, really? I want them to understand what they're doing and to understand what they're doing they have to really know how to explain it in their own words and be able to teach it to others.

Tell us about your work with the UConn student interns. What is it like having them working alongside you in your classroom?

Cancellieri: Honestly, they make me become a better teacher. They have so many great ideas. I learn from them, they learn from me and they just see that it's okay to make mistakes. It’s a very forgiving classroom, we are just who we are. Nobody's perfect, everybody struggles, we all make mistakes, we all learn from one another, and it's kind of like, what do you do with that? I think reflecting, whether you're a student or a teacher, is the biggest thing you can do. What can I do better? What can I do different the next day?

What do you like most about your job?

Cancellieri: I really love that you never know what's going to happen in the day. So like I said, you have these objectives and you know where you want to go in a day, but sometimes the day just takes you into unpredictable places and the learning is even better than you thought it was going to be. Because honestly, it's the things that they say. They teach me every day. The things that they say guide my learning, guide my teaching. So I just love to hear what they have to say and I want to build on that, to give them confidence to talk, to learn, to teach.

13 years into your career, what keeps you motivated?

CancellieriOver the last few years, I think I've really come into the fact that everything doesn't have to be done today. I'm planting seeds. So if they don't get it today, I used to go home and be kind of like, “What did I do wrong?”. I didn't get it. But now I think, you know what? It's a seed. I'm planting it and I'm going to water it. Next year, the fourth grade teacher is going to water it, the fifth grade teacher, and eventually it's going to sprout when they're ready. And that's the role I want to play in that kind of learning, that I had a part in that sprouting maybe not today, but in the future.