Region 10 Teacher of the Year serves up inspiration, with a side of life skills


Photo by Sabrina Daigle

Mrs. Denza takes the time to help each and every one of her students, whether it be something extremely difficult, or super simple.

Andrew Behrendt, Justin Cascio, and Grace Caraco, Contributing writers

She can whip up a scrumptious meal rapidly while still managing to make it delicious. She wakes up in the middle of the night thinking about her job. Still, her greatest talent according to many of her students, is her ability to inspire them to be the best that they can be.

Mrs. Barbara Denza spends most of her waking hours either at school, or devoting time to preparing for her popular culinary classes. Mrs. Denza spends her time outside of school watching cooking channels and shows, reading books, particularly cookbooks, and researching for her class. She always is looking for recipes that kids will enjoy and like, that relate to the topics that are covered in class. She will keep recipes that the kids enjoy year after year, but if there are recipes that kids did not like, she will try and find other recipes for them.

“It’s for the kids,” said Mrs. Denza. “Throughout all my 32 years of teaching.”

Recipes like cheddar baked biscuits and mac and cheese have always been kids’ favorites. Even though they are not entirely from scratch, Mrs. Denza keeps them for the kids because they love the food and she wants to teach them skills that they will use after the class. She knows that most students will not go home and make the dough and filling from scratch. She knows that most students would get premade dough and fill it. She knows that the reason for school is to prepare students for their future career and life, and she models her cooking class after that. She hopes that her students will use and remember the skills she taught them. She wants students have skills that they are likely to use outside of school.

“I’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking about school,” said Mrs. Denza.

She is always on top of her game and is very prepared for her class. She makes sure that there is enough of each ingredient for all her students, even if it means she has to go to the grocery store to get it. She knows that the food that she uses will not just show up in the classroom, rather, Mrs. Denza has to take time out of personal life to get the food. She spends over 10 hours a day doing work, or work related activities. Teaching is just a small part of the time she devotes to her job.

All this hard work and devotion has paid off for Mrs. Denza. This year she was nominated and chosen as the Region 10 Teacher of the Year. The Teacher of the Year has to be nominated, and then a group of facility members will choose based on what people say about the teacher.

“It warms my heart to know that someone thinks that highly of me,” said Mrs. Denza, eight months after she was chosen as Teacher of the Year.

During the last faculty meeting before summer, Mrs. Denza was very excited and proud when she was announced Teacher of the Year. Her previous students loved her class. They thought that Mrs. Denza was a phenomenal teacher and deserved to be Teacher of the Year. They enjoyed her class and her devotion to her job and her students. Mrs. Denza is still working just as hard to deliver the same experience to her current students, that her previous students had. She chooses her recipes the same way and teaches the students the skills they need to learn and become good cooks in today’s society. Many of her current students think just as highly about Mrs. Denza and her class now, as when she was nominated Teacher of the Year.

“Mrs. Denza’s so nice,” said Cassidy White, a student of Mrs. Denza. “She’s always in a good mood.”

Each and every day Mrs. Denza is always excited to teach and be in class. She loves being around her students and is always happy to see them. This happiness reflects throughout her class and helps motivate her students to do well. In general Mrs. Denza’s cooking classes has good vibes. She makes everyone feel welcome no matter what their knowledge of cooking is, and is dedicated to help and encourage each student.

“If I had to describe Mrs. Denza in one word, I would choose, caring,” said Mrs. Angelicola-Manzolli, a life friend of Mrs. Denza.

Mrs. Denza cares about her job, students, and what she’s doing. She is very dedicated to her job and tries her best to make her class the best that it can be and always encourages people around her to do their best.

“Once your friends with her, you’re friends for life,” said Mrs. A.

Once you get to know Mrs. Denza and you’re exposed to her dedication and her personality, you will always have a worthwhile connection with her.