B.Ed., University of Toledo
M.Ed., University of Toledo
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. It’s a part of me,” declared Mariola Cuffe.
The proof was in the actions. As a young girl, Cuffe would set up her stuffed animals and start teaching a class—so even then, she knew.
“I love helping people, I love explaining something to someone at my level, and they get it,” the R-MA Middle School teacher said enthusiastically, her eyes sparkling with passion.
For a while, Cuffe veered off of the education tract, majoring in music at the University of Toledo in Ohio. However, it didn’t take her long to see that many people did not take music as seriously as she did. It was then, Cuffe said, “I decided to teach and do music on the side.”
She focused on early childhood education at first, but life soon led her in another direction, as she began teaching English as a Second Language to migrant children. A Poland native who was adopted at age 12, Cuffe found herself naturally sympathetic to what the children were experiencing.
“It was more one-on-one,” she recalled. “I had seven or eight kids through second grade. I helped them learn English and how to survive in this country.” Cuffe went the extra mile, taking the children to movies and bringing them food, clothing, and other essentials the families could not always afford.
It was at that point that Cuffe realized she wanted to work with younger kids. When her own children entered middle school, she obtained a position as a sixth grade teacher at the Catholic school they were attending. “I liked the challenges I could provide to sixth and seventh graders,” she said. “They were not as needy [as younger children]; they were independent and could benefit from cooperative learning. I liked that age group, so when I started my master’s degree, it was in middle school English.”
Cuffe now teaches English Composition and Literature as well as study skills at R-MA Middle School.
“I believe every child is capable of learning a concept and mastering it in time,” she asserted. She runs her classroom with plenty of activity to ensure that students with different learning styles are all engaged in their work. “I want them to do things,” she explained. “I want them to do writing. We’re very visual, and creativity is important—touch and making things is important.”
“If I’m bored, I know they’re bored,” she added. “I want them to understand that learning is not just opening a book and me saying, ‘Do this.’ It is discovery. We all have different ways of learning. I want them to enjoy it.”
Cuffe has served in the past as the assistant coach for the middle school volleyball team. She also runs the Battle of the Books program at R-MA. In her spare time, she enjoys reading—and usually has multiple books going at once—playing the violin, and singing.