Hidden Magic Presents: Bear Facts Educator of the Issue – December 2021


Angelika Tyhansky, Editorial Board

Mr. Antonio Franzè

When seventh graders are presented with the opportunity to either enroll in the Spanish or Italian foreign language programs, the vast majority opt for the former; it’s familiar, mainstream, and commonly used in Putnam County. Only a small fraction of students choose to pursue the language that allows them to bond with their families and appreciate the culture of Renaissance. Despite this, the high school Italian program has an amazing success rate, mostly thanks to one person: Signor Franzè.
As one of only two Italian instructors in the building and four in the entire district, Signor Franzè certainly has a lot to work for. Realistic, encouraging, passionate and diligent, he teaches with the knowledge of a native and an objective to effectively pass that knowledge on. The age-old question of ‘When will we actually use this?’ is answered nearly every day, since Signor Franzè is always redirecting students based on how Italians typically converse. He isn’t afraid to go against the textbook when it’s unrealistic, setting students on the path to writing and speaking naturally.
Additionally, although he certainly seeks quantitative success in his students, Signor Franzè values the quality of students’ understanding much more so. Even mistakes as simple as using the incorrect article or incorrect pronunciation are pointed out to establish good habits. This approach, in turn, creates curious linguists eager to communicate. The current class of WCC Italian 201 certainly agree, as they’ve had Franze for all four years of high school: “Throughout the years, Signor Franze has encouraged me to reach my fullest potential by challenging me in class and exposing me to a variety of tenses and grammar forms,” says senior Maya Szewczyk. “He inspires me to also take it easy and learn things with a calm mind,” adds senior Jacob Park.
It’s easy for students to work well when they’ve had the same teacher for four years straight, but even underclassmen agree that Franze’s teaching is outstanding: “I do like Italian more this year because I feel like we are learning much more [than in middle school] and we get many more laughs,” explains freshman Ariana Vernile Marks.
As spectacular of a teacher as Signor Franzè is, he’s an even greater aperson. More often than not, lessons involve some insightful discussion of reality, ranging anywhere from religious tolerance to remaining safe in college – proving his concerns go beyond the grades students receive. During the pre-COVID days, he worked diligently to plan and conduct the annual field trip to Italy. And, as senior Nora Paladino can attest, “He gives us cannolis!”
It may be hard to come by a teacher as personable and resilient as il signor just anywhere, but, here at Brewster High School, it is far more common than one thinks.

Bear Facts congratulates Mr. Franzè on being such a great teacher to us all!