One on One with Professor Judith Mazziotti
By Emily Stoll
If you’ve ever considered learning Italian, now is a great time to do it.
Daemen recently began offering classes for the language, and you won’t find a better teacher than Professor Judith Mazziotti. She makes learning fun by adding magic tricks, experiments, and all sorts of fun little things into her lessons and has won many teaching awards, including Teacher of the Year.
Though this is her first year teaching at Daemen, Mazziotti has been running the summer Italian camp in Wick’s Alumni Lounge since 2009 and has offered the camp at Nazareth College for the past 17 years.
Though the camp has an age limit, students who have outgrown it can return as volunteers. Even some adults and college students in the community help out, which gives them a chance to practice speaking Italian.
Mazziotti was very excited when she was offered a job at Daemen. “It’s the joy of my life to teach Italian at this college, which is a few steps from my home,” she said. “I just love it.” This semester, she is teaching Italian 102, the second part of the course. But Daemen isn’t the first school she has taught at.
When she was still in school, Mazziotti started teaching English to Italians. Then in the '70s, she began a class teaching Italian to adults and spent 10 years working in a neuropathology lab at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC).
During that time, she was still earning a college degree, working full-time, raising two babies, and running the credit union of ECMC, of which she was president for roughly six years. After all of this, she started school to earn a teaching degree, since she “wasn’t thrilled as a lab technician,” and teaching was what made her truly happy.
After reaching undergraduate level at University at Buffalo, Mazziotti began Montessori Training, which taught her a visual and manipulative education method created by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. She earned her B.A. and Montessori certification, then was offered a job at a Montessori school.
In 22 years at this school, Bennett Park Montessori in downtown Buffalo, she took students to Italy, had them sing with Shakespeare in the Park, and won a half-a-million dollar grant for the school for her Italian program.
After this, she retired and began making and selling bilingual educational videos. But apparently the world wasn’t ready for her to retire yet, because less than a year later she was offered a job teaching at Buffalo State College, where she still teaches in addition to her Daemen class.
Mazziotti is a proud mother of two and grandmother of five. One grandchild is a gifted pianist, another has been chosen to do a voiceover on a Nickelodeon show, and yet another has been in a movie. Her husband was an Italian baron who left her a castle in Calabria in southern Italy.
There’s no doubt that she runs a busy life, but it’s easy to tell that she loves what she does. So, if you want to learn Italian, sign up sometime soon. Professor Mazziotti’s class is well worth the time.