Amy Sidari, English & History Teacher and Grade 5 Dean

Grade 5 Dean and English and History Teacher, Amy Sidari, has been welcoming Ellis girls to the Middle School for the last 17 years. In her classroom, you’ll find her teaching students about the wonders of Greek mythology and ancient civilizations, and holding dynamic discussions on dystopian tales like The Giver and classic coming of age stories like Bridge to Terabithia. An avid reader and bibliophile, Mrs. Sidari brings her lifelong love of literature (her mom owned a bookstore) to not only her students, but the entire Middle School as she leads Ellis’ Battle of the Books challenge. An enthusiastic teacher, Dean, and CrossFitter, Mrs. Sidari shares her favorite book to teach to her students and what she loves most about her job.
Years at Ellis:17
Title:Middle School English & History Teacher, Grade 5 Dean
Education:B.S. Fashion Merchandising, Kent State University; M.Ed., Nazareth College

Tell me about how you got into teaching. Did you know you always wanted to be a teacher?
Growing up, my ultimate goal was to be a fashion stylist at the White House and pick outfits for the President and the First Lady. I went to Kent State for merchandising and planned to work in the fashion industry, but that obviously didn’t pan out! It wasn’t until I started working at a sporting goods store after college that I became interested in teaching. While I was there, I started a baseball card program centered around kids. It really piqued my interest in teaching, so I decided to take an education course at the local college to see if it was something I wanted to pursue seriously. From the first day of my first class, I knew teaching was the right path for me. I went on to get my master’s in education from Nazareth College and have been teaching ever since.

How long have you been at Ellis? Have you always been in the Middle School?
I’ve been at Ellis for 17 years! I was hired as a part-time Lower School computer teacher and a part-time Middle School reading specialist. Two years after I started, there was an opening for a fifth grade teacher position, so I applied and got the job. English and history were a great fit because I’ve always loved books and history. My mother owned a bookstore when I was growing up, so I loved to read about true events and fictional worlds. I always hope my enthusiasm for both subjects is contagious to the students.

How do you think the all-girls classroom at Ellis benefits students?
I taught in coed classrooms in New York for several years before coming to Ellis, and I could see the difference immediately. At Ellis, the girls are empowered, not inhibited. They are self-assured in the classroom, confident in their abilities, and eager to learn more. They’re not afraid to fail because they’re secure in who they are. When you take boys out of the equation, girls don’t think twice about sharing their thoughts and opinions. It’s really exciting to watch girls find their voice and discover their passions in Middle School.

What do you love most about your job?
The students and the people I have the pleasure of working with every day. Ellis really is a fantastic community. I also feel incredibly lucky to have the freedom that I do in my Middle School classroom. It’s invigorating to try new things, introduce different books, and change things up based on the students I have each year. Every year is different and I like to tailor my lessons to my current class.

When you think of Ellis, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
The tight-knit community. Not just within Middle School faculty, but across divisions between teachers, students, staff, and leadership.

How do you spend your free time?
With my son, Parker, 12, and my husband. We have two dogs and I like to exercise—I do CrossFit!

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Irish. Hardworking. Dedicated.

Which fictional character would you most like to meet in real life?
Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia. In the book, she’s a newcomer trying to find her way and I would want to meet her so I could offer her support and encouragement. I would tell her to be who she is, not anyone else.

What is your favorite book to teach?
The Giver by Lois Lowry. I teach it in the spring once the girls are a little older and are ready for more in-depth discussions. They are so engaged and excited about the book that all they want to do is read and talk about it. They can’t put it down! As a teacher, seeing my students that eager to read and learn is the best.

What is the last book you read?
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood, and Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan—this year’s selections for Middle School’s Battle of the Books!

What are your favorite shows to watch on TV?
Project Runway and Scandal.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?