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Posted May 24, 2011

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‘Nell’ Stands for Quality Teaching at Alameda Elementary

Teacher of the Month Nell Guarienti Known for Her Dedication, Passion

At Alameda Elementary, one word exemplifies excellence in teaching: Nell.

When Nell Guarienti started teaching kindergarteners at the North Valley school nearly four decades ago, the little ones found her name hard to pronounce, and she quickly became known as Miss Nell. Over the next 37 years, the name became synonymous with all that is good in teaching: dedication, patience, loyalty, determination, caring.

“Nell is the jewel of the school,” says Principal Claudia Garcia Ramirez, who selected Nell for the Pepsi/APS Education Foundation Teacher of the Month. “She comes in early. She leaves late. She gives up recesses to help kids who are struggling with concepts. She has high standards for every one of her students, and she expects mastery.”

Nell is strict, but her students – many of them children of former students -- love and respect her because they know she only wants what’s best for them, says Ramirez.

She also is well respected among her colleagues, always offering a helping hand or a word of advice. “This whole staff is fabulous,” Nell says.

Nell has been teaching for 42 years, calling Alameda home for all but five of those. She’s taught every grade at the school, and says she can’t imagine teaching anywhere else. “I’ve been here forever. I’m like the furniture,” she jokes.

“I love this staff and this school,” Nell adds. “We all work hard, we care about the kids, and it shows.”

Nell admits she’s a very structured teacher who demands a lot from her students. “Having taught so many years, I’ve learned that the higher your expectations, the higher theirs,” she says. “My students are sponges. They want to learn, and I want them to learn.”

The Teacher of the Month program began two years ago by Pepsi and the Education Foundation to recognize APS teachers for their outstanding contribution to the classroom, school and community. The Foundation randomly selects one APS school each month, and that school’s principal is asked to choose a teacher to be honored. The teachers receive a $50 check from Pepsi and acknowledgement on the APS website and Facebook page.

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