School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

School Days, Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Book Club Mom Barbara Vitelli, fellow book lover, librarian, blogger and fiction writer. We’ve been following each other’s blogs for a few years now. I enjoy reading Barbara’s book reviews and have read the occasional book as a result of Barbara’s recommendation. In fact, I’m currently listening to The Other Wes Moore One Name Two Fates, a memoir and New York Times Bestseller that Barbara reviewed. What a fascinating story with a strong theme of ‘that could have been me’ and how circumstances influence life’s outcomes. What makes the audiobook even more special is that Wes reads it. A great recommendation, Barbara. Thank you.

Barbara also dabbles in fiction of her own. I’ve been enjoying her serialised story A Man and His Phone, the most recent episode of which can be read here. If you haven’t already met Barbara, I suggest you pop over to her blog and say, ‘Hello’.

Before we begin the interview, I’ve invited Barbara to tell you a little of herself:

Barbara Vitelli is a mom of four children and works part-time as a Reference Librarian at her local library. She also runs a blog called Book Club Mom, home to book reviews, indie author profiles, bookish talk and some occasional original fiction. Before settling into semi-rural suburban life in Pennsylvania, she lived in New Jersey, upstate New York, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Maybe someday she will publish a novel, but in the meantime she’s happy to work her way through the many great books already out there.

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

Welcome, Barbara.

Let’s talk school. First, could you tell us where you attended school?

I attended elementary school, junior high and high school in Madison, New Jersey, college in upstate New York and business school in Washington, D.C., all in the United States.

Did you attend a government, private or independent school?

I attended all public schools through high school.

What is the highest level of education you achieved?

After college, I earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and my major was Finance and Investments.

What work or profession did you choose after school and was there anything in school that influenced this choice?

My first job out of college was as a secretary for an air conditioning and refrigeration trade association outside of Washington, D.C. My only goal at that time was to get a full-time job with benefits. I was thinking about graduate school, but I needed time to decide. After a year, I switched jobs and worked for a Sheraton Hotel chain in the Washington, D.C. area. I worked there for 5 years while I attended graduate school at night.

What is your earliest memory of school?

I attended Kindergarten in the same school as my next older brother and one day at recess, the school bully pushed me into a muddy puddle. I had to point out the bully to one of the teachers and the offender was promptly sent to the principal. The bully was a boy in my brother’s class and we worried that he’d take it out on my brother. Nothing happened, though!

What memories do you have of learning to read?

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

We all started to learn to read in Kindergarten, although I mostly pretended to know, “reading” books that my mother and father had read to me so much I had them memorized. My favorite book was A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You by Joan Walsh Anglund.

What memories do you have of learning to write?

I remember using big fat red pencils and paper with wide rules and dotted lines in the middle. I liked learning how to print and write cursive. I still like writing cursive!

What do you remember about math classes?

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

I remember learning my times tables in third grade and when I got into fourth grade, learning long division. In high school, I loved Algebra because I liked solving problems where everything worked out on both sides. I wasn’t a big fan of Geometry, but I got through it. I took no math in college, but I had to take Calculus in graduate school – that was a struggle!

What was your favourite subject?

I didn’t have a favorite subject in the lower grades, but my favorite subject in high school was French (despite my love for Algebra). I even thought about majoring in French in college (I also considered Music and Peace Studies), but in the end I majored in English because I like to read. Now, besides reading, my favorite thing to think about is marketing. If I could do business school over again, I would pick that as my major. Finance and Investments was the hot major at the time (think Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in Wall Street) so I just went with the flow. 

What did you like best about school?

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

 As a young girl, I liked the beginning of the school year when all our supplies were new. In junior high and high school, I liked that but I also liked the social side of school where I played sports, was a class officer and was in a lot of clubs. I was a little less active in college and focused more on a smaller group of friends and activities.

What did you like least about school?  

I generally liked school so I can’t say I disliked anything in particular. But I loved summer vacations because my family and I spent them at the Jersey shore. I had another group of good friends there and I was always excited to finish the year and see them. I was also sorry to see the summer end.

How do you think schools have changed since your school days?

School Days Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

Without question, the biggest change has been technology. Kids now do a great deal of schoolwork on a screen, rather than writing it on paper. In many ways, technology helps kids do their work quickly and efficiently, but I think they miss out on the thinking part that happens when you write things out by hand. I think this is especially true for working out math problems and writing.

What do you think schools (in general) do well?

On the flip side of my technology comment, I think our schools have done a great job keeping up with technology and making changes to their curriculums to reflect this. These skills, particularly knowing how to use computer programs and do research on the Internet (besides using Google), are required skills in college and the workforce.

How do you think schools could be improved?

I would like to see approaches that encourage resiliency and independence. I think kids need to learn how to better handle disappointments and adversity. Perhaps that’s something that we parents are responsible for, but I think teachers can also make a big impact on our children in this area.

thank you for your participation

Thank you for sharing your reminiscences of school and thoughts about education in general, Barbara. It’s been wonderful to have you here. I’m sorry you got pushed over into the mud when you were in kindergarten, and can just imagine how concerned you were that your brother might also be bullied. I love that you didn’t mind school but that summer holidays were your favourite! Like you, I also loved my new supplies at the beginning of the year. There is nothing quite like the smell of new books.

To find out more about Barbara Vitelli visit her blog

Book Club Mom: bvitelli2002.wordpress.com

or connect with her on social media

Twitter: @BookClubMom
Facebook: @BookClubMom

If you missed previous reminiscences, check them out here:

Charli Mills

Sally Cronin

Anne Goodwin

Geoff Le Pard

Hugh Roberts

Debby Gies

Pauline King

JulesPaige

D. Avery

Christy Birmingham

Miriam Hurdle

Robbie Cheadle

Marsha Ingrao

Ritu Bhathal

Joy Lennick

Darlene Foster

Susan Scott

Look for future interviews in this series to be posted on Sunday evenings AEST.

Coming soon:

Sherri Matthews

Mabel Kwong

Chelsea Owens

Pete Springer

Carol Taylor

with more to follow.

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

 

67 thoughts on “School Days, Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

  1. Pingback: School Days, Reminiscences of Sherri Matthews | Norah Colvin

  2. Jennie

    Excellent interview, Norah. Barbara is right about technology, and how writing things out is good for our thinking. Resilience and independence are critical. Thank you, Barbara (I have fond memories of the Jersey shore and Stone Harbor) and Norah.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Jules

    It is nice to read that you, Barbara had a good school experience. And might even be more or less in my neck of the woods. I’m catching up on some travels… being about a week away.
    Continued success in doing what you enjoy 🙂

    Like

    Reply
  4. Patricia Tilton

    What a fun and interesting interview with Barbara. I loved listening to her thoughts about her years in school. It’s fun to look back! School librarians were my heroes! They always recommend such great books.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Book Club Mom

      Hi Marian – yes, sometimes a subject that has visuals makes a lot more sense. I felt that way with Algebra, but not with Geometry. Geometry is a different kind of thinking. Thanks for reading my interview!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  5. dgkaye

    Nice to learn about Barbara here today Norah. French was my best subject in high school. I’ve always found it easy to grasp other langugages. I was pretty fluent in French by the end of high school and it came in handy in my travels. I haven’t used it in years. I can still comprehend it but would be a little lame in conversation, lol 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Norah Post author

      I learnt French in high school too, Debby. I’ve had a few goes at freshening it up since, but haven’t achieved much. When I was in Paris a few years ago, stuck in traffic from the airport to the city for ages, the driver and I had a broken conversation with the little French I knew and the little English he knew. It was quite fun. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Erica/Erika

    Hi Norah and Barbara, I admire the many hats Barbara wears. I appreciate book reviews, since sometimes I don’t know where to start, or I am in the mood for a unique book, possibly not mainstream. The book re: circumstances influencing outcomes sound intriguing. It looks like Barbara had a good education in the school of life with some of the initial jobs. I am reminded of the “new” smell with school supplies especially in Elementary school. I agree with Barbara on how a part of our brain thinks differently when we write things out. Nice to meet you, Barbara. I will check out your blog, next:)

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Book Club Mom

      Hello Erica/Erika – thank you very much for your supportive comments. I had a happy childhood and many positive experiences in school – those are the things that help a person move into adulthood – and teachers play a big role in that. Hope you are having a nice weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

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    2. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Erica/Erika. ‘The Other Wes Moore’ is a fascinating book. I’m sure you will find much to enjoy on Barbara’s blog. Thanks for stopping by here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. petespringerauthor

    Another fine interview, Norah. I enjoyed learning about Barbara and her experiences in school. My first thought as I was reading was thank goodness for school librarians. I worked with some excellent ones while I was a teacher. I don’t know what the trend is like where you live, Barbara, but in California, we are losing out on this valuable resource. When budget cuts happen, school librarians are being considered a luxury item and are starting to go by the wayside. That makes me sad and disappointed. I can’t tell you how many times one of the librarians I worked with helped me by finding a wide array of books for a unit I was about to teach.

    School librarians not only can recommend so many great books for children, but the library itself serves as a safe haven for kids who like to read. Not every child is eager to go to recess. A good librarian connects with so many children and helps get them turned on to reading or finding a new series or author to enjoy. Thank you for your years of service.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Book Club Mom

      Hi Pete – thank you for reading Norah’s interview with me – and for leaving such thoughtful comments. Librarians at schools and your local library are always ready to help kids find something great to read and provide a supportive atmosphere. Public libraries are very in tune with what the schools are teaching and are also a great place to visit!

      Liked by 2 people

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    2. Norah Post author

      You have made some great points about the benefits of librarians, Pete. I would have found teaching difficult without the support of a good librarian. It was always important to make sure that I was in the librarian’s ‘good books’ so to speak. It made my job much easier. It is sad for teachers and students, as well as the librarians themselves, that their work is no longer considered valuable and their positions are being made redundant. It is the same here in Australia – such a disappointment.

      Liked by 1 person

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  8. Susan Scott

    Thanks Barbara and Norah this was great to read. I’ve always enjoyed your reviews Barbara written as they are in a flowing and engrossing style as are your answers to Norah’s questions. I too think it was great that you pointed out the bully in spite of your concern your brother may’ve been on the receiving end the next time round.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Book Club Mom

      Hi Susan, thank you for your kind words and for reading Norah’s interview with me. I was pretty surprised to be pushed in the mud and I was completely covered! The line-up was swift and I didn’t have much time to think about the repercussions – thankfully there were none 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    1. Book Club Mom

      Hi Jacqui – oh that’s a shame! I’ve had to learn a lot about modern reference tools and we get a lot of questions. Thankfully, I share the job with three other librarians. Maybe your library will add to its staff in the future. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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    2. Norah Post author

      It is heartbreaking (and learner destroying) to find that many schools are opting out of having a librarian. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jacqui.

      Like

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  9. Annika Perry

    Norah, what a brilliant idea for a series of posts! I see I’ve lots to catch up on! 😀 Barbara, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about your school life and it’s wonderul to have so many positive memories! Ahh … as young I too loved buying new school supplies and I nearly managed to convince my mother every September that I needed a new bag!

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Book Club Mom

      Hi Annika! Thanks for finding me here 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the interview. We didn’t use school bags when I was in school. As girls, we always carried our books in the crooks of our arms and the boys used a strap to keep them all together and carried them on their hips. No one would ever do that now! But I always got a first day of school dress and a new pair of shoes. Good for you convincing your mother to get you a new bag – that stuff is important!

      Liked by 2 people

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    2. Norah Post author

      Hi Annika, Thanks for popping by to read Barbara’s reminiscences of school days. You’re right. Many others have also shared their memories. It is fascinating to read about everyone’s different experiences, but to find that there are common threads running through them too.
      There’s nothing like a new bag and new supplies to begin a school year in the right frame of mind. I still loved that as a teacher. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  10. Diana Stevan

    I enjoyed reading this. It took me back to my own school days. Like you Barbara, I loved algebra and also the start of every school year.

    I was also intrigued by your answers about education today. Our two youngest grandchildren finished a Waldorf elementary and high school education. They’re both incredible thinkers because the program encourages deep analysis in many subjects, often incorporating tactile experiences to heighten their understanding. In the early years, parents are discouraged from having their children watch TV and use any technology. From what I’ve seen, that type of education produces children who not only think but have much to contribute to society.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for popping over to read and leave such a lovely comment on Barbara’s reminiscences of her school days, Diana.
      I was very interested to read your comments about your grandchildren’s education. I’ve heard many other good things about Waldorf schools, especially from fellow blogger, Pauline King, who taught at a Steiner school in New Zealand. We’ve had many conversations about what education ‘should’ be over the years. 🙂

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  11. robbiesinspiration

    I enjoyed seeing Barbara featured here, Norah, and reading about her school days. I also did correspondence university so I know how hard it is and how much self discipline you need to study at night. I loved the pictures of Barbara as a young girl too.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Book Club Mom

      Thanks, Robbie. Yes, studying at night was not easy – I was often pretty tired. I didn’t do a correspondence program – that has many unique challenges, especially requiring that you be a self-starter, which I bet you were and I’m sure you still are! I attended classes at night after work. I can’t imagine doing that now – I don’t have that energy!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  12. Book Club Mom

    Reblogged this on Book Club Mom and commented:
    What are your earliest memories of school? What were your favorite subjects? I’m answering these and other questions today Norah Colvin’s blog, as part of her School Days, Reminiscences series. I hope you’ll hop over and take a look!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  13. Darlene

    I was so glad to read that you pointed out the bully to the teachers and he was dealt with. That put a stop to it. So many kids don’t say anything and continue to be bullied. I also enjoyed algebra, which made me a bit weird in my school. (farm kids saw no use for algebra at all) Some great reminiscences.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Book Club Mom

      Hi Darlene – yes, the teachers moved swiftly and the whole situation was handled right away and then everyone moved on. Thanks for reading about me and I’m glad to find a fellow Algebra lover – don’t ask me about Calculus though! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

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