The American Association of Teachers of Italian-Midwest hosted a symposium based on the current “Made in Italy” trend sweeping World Languages. With enrollments diminishing, programs closing, and the lack of teachers to replace retiring teachers and long-term leaves, we need to come together! It is important to begin to look towards the future and to move our classes into a more hands on, career pathway type of methodology, or at least a unit lesson to expose our students to the reality of “life in Italian beyond high school and not just for credit”. That isn’t enough anymore. In this way, we can spark the interest of young children, perhaps entice new schools to begin programs in middle schools, and to provide opportunities for our high school students to continue in college/university beyond the AP exam credit.
The day began with a Keynote address by recently awarded National and Illinois Superintendent of the year, Dr. David Schuler, Superintendent of High School District 214, the second largest school district in Illinois and leader in the “redefining ready” movement across the Nation. Guest speakers included Dr. Enza Antenos from Montclair State University whose presentation focused on “Thinking globally, act locally: Illinois and Made in Italy” and Dr. Ryan Calabretta-Sajder of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville who also spoke about “Made in Italy: Teaching the Five As Both Local and Abroad”. The presentations provided much information about including the idea of “Made in Italy” into the classroom.
The afternoon provided workshop time for Middle School, High School, and Higher Education educators to work together on an initiative created by Lyn Scolaro of Prospect High School as a result of her International Internship with the Frantoi Redoro of Grezzana (Verona), Italia in her AP Italian Class. The goal is to provide students hands on opportunities with Italian businesses so that students are made aware of the opportunities to use their language, not just in college. Scolaro created two initiatives (Adopt an Italian Program for High Schools and Middle Schools) and provided educators time to collaborate and create projects.
Once the projects receive administrative approval from each school, Scolaro has coordinated with business in the Chicago Area to collaborate with schools. Italian companies in Chicago and Suburbs working with the high school students are Barilla, Custom Marble and Granite, Fra Noi, Rana, Spanesi Body Shop and Technology, Transceramica, and the Milan Sister Cities team. Working with the Middle Schools are Elio’s Cafe, Elio’s Pizza on Fire, and Tony’s Fresh Markets.
AATI Midwest would like to thank the National AATI, Italidea-Midwest, and the Frantoi Redoro for their financial support of the event and to Township High School District 214 for hosting the event in Arlington Heights, IL. It was a great success and we look forward to hosting more innovative symposium in the future around the country.