Ask Mount Alvernia Academy Second Grade Teacher, Mrs. Joanne Dieso, how long she has taught at MAA and she will shoot you an “oh come on! You expect me to remember that?” look before saying, “Okay, let me think . . . 22 years . . . 21 years teaching Second Grade. It feels like it’s only been 10 years!” she laughs. Mrs. Dieso describes herself as a glass half full kind of person. That relentless positivity has served her well as a lifelong educator and is coming in handy now as she prepares to retire.
Reflecting on her time at MAA, she says one aspect of life here stands out, how safe and loved the school makes students feel. “My goal is to train children in academics, life skills, and to create a safe environment for them,” she asserted. “I want this school to be a place where they can come every day, know they are safe, and that the routine is predictable. I want them to know that no matter what is happening outside these walls, they can feel at home here.” Walk into her classroom, and you will immediately feel what she is talking about. Her students feel at home in her room, free to be themselves and comfortable with the rhythms of the day.
Mrs. Dieso loves teaching Second Grade, “They surprise me every day,” she said with a smile. After teaching Third Grade for years, running a preschool, and teaching Fifth Grade her first year at MAA, she jumped at the opportunity to teach Second Grade. “They are so eager to learn.”
Even after two decades on the job, nothing brings a bigger smile to Mrs. Dieso’s face than the school’s Second Grade special liturgy. “Oh! That’s a big bonus,” she exclaimed, her excitement bubbling over. “I love how the whole MAA community participates and supports them,” she said. “It really marks a moment of deeper belonging for them, regardless of what their faith is. It’s a beautiful way to show how God is part of their daily lives, and for all of us to show them they are loved and welcome here.” She can’t help but smile when talking about the liturgy. “I am so proud watching them walk down the aisle. I feel like they are my own kids.”
For Mrs. Dieso, there are two lessons she never wants her students to forget. The first, and most important, is that “making mistakes is okay! It is how we learn and get better,” she said earnestly. “I try to stress forgiveness,” she continued. “Life can be hard, but as long as they do their best, God will love them and forgive them.” The second lesson is the importance of lasting friendships. “The person sitting across from you could be a lifelong friend, so treat each other well,” she tells her students. And she knows, she lives across the street from her childhood friend.
Although she may be leaving us next year, Mrs. Dieso is leaving Second Grade in incredibly capable hands with Ms. Caitlin Wolford. “She is a wonderful addition, and we are blessed to have her. She is such a calming influence and has a great way with the students,” she said. “The previous Second Grade teacher, Mrs. Luciano, and I were like this,” she said holding her fingers together. “Ms. Wolford stepped right in and made an immediate impact. She helped take what I had done for years, freshened it up, and took it to the next level,” she said excitedly. “She really brought in a new way of thinking about things and has been a great addition.” We will all definitely miss Mrs. Dieso and the joy and wisdom she has brought to our community. Thank you, Mrs. Dieso, for all of your hard work and dedication. Don’t forget to come back and visit…you are always welcome home!