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NORDONIA HILLS — After a career in trans-continental trade and international banking, Pamela Conte, chair of the World Languages Department at Nordonia High School, has another accomplishment to celebrate.
“I was very honored, and very humbled and it was totally unexpected,” Conte said regarding her recent selection as Nordonia High School PTSA Educator of the Year.
Her nomination was made by senior Sarah Bon, one of Conte’s students studying Spanish.
“Señora Conte embodies everything a successful foreign language teacher needs — such as phenominal communication, listening, patience and what stands out most to me, the ability to genuinely connect with each individual student,” Bon wrote in her nomination letter. “She teaches more than foreign language; she teaches us how to connect with and appreciate other people and their cultures.
“Señora Conte’s passion for her job, and sincere happiness each day in class is contagious ... Señora Conte is always willing to help out a struggling student, and keep encouraging them, but she also keeps in mind the students who are excelling and allows them to grow and find new challenges.”
Conte has been on staff at Nordonia High School for 10 years, was born to two German immigrants and didn’t begin learning English until she entered kindergarten.
“They only spoke to me in German,” she said, referring to her parents.
In high school, she studied Spanish and finished her senior year in Mexico, spending a year there as part of a Rotary exchange program.
A graduate of Kent State University, Conte graduated with a triple major — political science, German and Spanish — and went to work working in international customs in Spain, handling the import of factory equipment into the United States.
On her return from overseas, she worked in international banking before scaling back and becoming a substitute teacher, “so I could stay at home with my children.”
Why not go back into her former, high-powered, globe-totting career?
“I like the kids and really enjoy spending time with them — that’s where my heart is,” she told the News Leader.
Nordonia High School Principal Casey Wright said Conte is a key staff member.
“Ms. Conte is a fantastic teacher and a great example for new teachers to learn from,” he said.
And students can learn from Conte’s “work ethic,” says Bon.
“It is encouraging as a student to see a teacher be so passionate about their career and be so invested in her students,” Bon wrote. “I nominate Señora Conte for educator of the year. She truly deserves recognition for her above-and-beyond work ethic and the great lessons she has taught me and all of her other students, not only for learning Spanish, but for life.”
Conte is just one of more than a dozen educators, volunteers and others being recognized by organizations at each Nordonia Hills school this year. The district PTA Council was scheduled to meet Jan. 23 to select district-wide award recipients.
Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433
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