By Armauni Allen
In the average life of a high school student, we see about six different teachers throughout different classes. For months we have gotten to know them and we have learned their style of teaching. We see them for eighty-two minutes a day, but what are they like in the other twenty three hours outside of class, what are their hobbies, how did they get to this point in their career? You would be amazed if you knew that Simone Pacilio has traveled to 14 countries, and lived in 5: France, Austria, England, Japan and Costa Rica. Many people in the hallways of Jamesville-Dewitt see Señora Pacilio as the cheerful and energetic Spanish teacher, but few know her story.
Señora Pacilio was born in Raritan, N.J., one of four children. Her childhood consisted of living on a 6-acre turkey farm and tending to their garden. As a child she was very free to roam the countryside of New Jersey with her siblings. ‘’We were wild children,’’ she said. ’’We did a lot of bike riding and outdoor activities; we were hardly in the house. My mother called us in for lunch and dinner, the rest was us. We created a new world.’’
She also enjoyed playing football with her brother and his friends; Senora Pacilio was and still is a huge fan of the game of football. Her father was a huge New York Jets fan and that passed on to Señora Pacilio. ‘’I have been a Jets fan forever, my dad had season tickets when the Jets were called the Titans and played at Shea Stadium. Football still is my favorite sport to watch. I played it with my brother and his friends and it was so much fun.’’
Early in her life, Simone Pacilio wanted to travel the world; she realized that in order to do that, she would need to speak the necessary languages. When she was 16 years old, her school sponsored a trip to France and from there she knew that she wanted to travel the world. After she graduated high school, she attended Rutgers University in New Jersey, majoring in French. ‘’I got a little impatient to jumpstart my world abroad; so I temporarily left school and lived in Paris, France for a year.’’ While there Senora Pacilio worked as a cleaning woman and she baby-sat a 5-year-old boy.
After that she moved to Innsbruck, Austria where she learned the German language for a year. While in Innsbruck she decided to finish her education at Rutgers.’’I went back to Rutgers hoping to to get my degree so I could start teaching overseas.’’ After she graduated, she took a four month training period in England and got her first teaching job, which sent her to Japan for a year and a half. ’’I was so excited and thrilled until it was time to board the plane at JFK,’’ she says. “As I was getting on the plane I turned to my sister and asked, ’what am I doing?’’
Señora Pacilio finished her contract in Japan and decided to travel to China, Burma, Thailand, and then finished this tour of Asia with a four month trip to Australia. She returned to New Jersey and began teaching to ESL to adults. At that point she was piecing together two part-time jobs, with no benefits, to make ends meet. During this time she met her husband while working in a restaurant in New Jersey. Eventually they got married and moved to his native home of Costa Rica, and had their first child Raquel.
Costa Rica was where Señora Pacilio improved her Spanish speaking skills. ’’I gained fluency by constantly speaking with the Costa Ricans and Spanish-speaking students I taught to ESL with. Moving to Costa Rica really made the language stick.’’ After a year and a half, Señora Pacilio and her husband decided to head back to the United States to find better paying jobs. She went back to teaching ESL to adults, but needed a full time job, which she soon found as a teacher of Spanish to kids at an elementary school. During that time she had her second daughter Eva. From working at an elementary school, she moved to a high school job and enjoyed this level more than any other levels she had taught. After Raquel graduated high school and went on to Penn State, Señora Pacilio moved to Syracuse, N.Y. and the rest is history.
In addition to knowing many languages, she has a large garden she built herself, filled with many different plants. ’’Since moving to Syracuse my garden has been a work in progress,’’ she explains.‘’It has evolved from six tomato plants, a pumpkin, to six, 4-by-8 vegetable boxes.” This triples her original garden. “I’m in the process of building the vegetable boxes by myself,” she said. Señora Pacilio also displays her knowledge of gardening at her part-time job at the local Home Depot, where she works in the gardening department. ‘’It is always important to take care of the environment that you live in.’’