Mrs. Bertolotti is not only a teacher, she is a beloved friend and amazing human being to all of her students. She runs Safe Space, a club at Bethpage High School a place of love and acceptance for all students to feel safe and loved. If that doesn’t show how great of a person she is, here is another reason. Outside of school, Mrs. B is a life coach and has helped me personally on a lot of issues I have faced during High School, much like she does to anyone who chooses to confide in her.
The Eagle’s Cry: What are the ups and downs of being a teacher?
Ms. Bertolotti: Alright, where to begin, the ups of being a teacher are just those moments where it feels right when you see something click for somebody or when somebody expresses either in words or that grateful smile that you were there for them. The downs can be…there’s just a lot of complaining and I don’t think that’s a teacher specific or school specific epidemic and I just think there’s a lot of complaining in the world, and I try not to let that into my sphere.
The Eagle’s Cry: How does it interfere with your personal life?
Ms. Bertolotti: Teaching could interfere with anybody’s personal life. If they let the job consume them too much, and it’s interesting because it’s the kind of job where to do it well, you have to take care of yourself. You just have to set boundaries that work for you, where as some people bring a lot of work home, others only want to grade when there at school. Setting boundaries could help that.
The Eagle’s Cry: Do you find difficulty balancing being a life coach as well as teacher or do you feel they go hand and hand?
Ms. Bertolotti: My coaching skills have made me a better teacher for sure…as far as balancing, I don’t take many clients during the school year just for the sake of time, whereas when we’re on break I work with clients in the summer…just not here for eight to ten hours a day.
The Eagle’s Cry : Your club Safe-space, can you describe your vision behind it and why it’s important?
Ms. Bertolotti: Well we’re all visionaries in safe space, which is intended to be a place where people can be exactly who they are whether it’s who they were born as or who they want to be or show up in this world. Or if they’re just trying to figure that out. I wish the whole world was like that… I can’t control what goes on in the whole world, but I can at least set an environment once a week for 45 minutes to an hour. It’s important because they’re so many places in life where if you don’t conform to a very specific paradigm or a very specific way of thinking or being that you are told either outright that there is something wrong with you and there is nothing wrong with any of us as long as we’re not hurting each other.
The Eagle’s Cry: Where do you see the future of this club?
Ms. Bertolotti: I see the club, and I say this often, we’re not a club…we’re a movement. I see the club spreading out more and our membership while it ebbs and flows when new people come in they’re really different we’re not just one type of person or stereotype, so I see it really expanding and changing with the students.
The Eagle’s Cry: What makes you want to be a teacher?
Ms. Bertolotti: I continue to be here everyday because I know there are people who need the gifts that I have if that makes sense
The Eagle’s Cry: What makes you want to be a life coach?
Ms. Bertolotti: Same thing that has me showing up here in coaching and in teacher and if you’ve ever been in a class with me it’s never about the content it’s about the people I don’t care if you never read a page of a book I assign as long as you are learning to be more confident in who you are and learning about how you want to show up in the world, that’s more important than anything else if I could help you do that by helping you write more correctly or more fluently or to expand your love of reading or whatever it is that will facilitate into that that’s great but it’s the same thing with coaching and teaching I’m going to always put my people first and help them be the best they can be.
The Eagle’s Cry: What would you say differs you from other teachers? Would you say you have a “different” style of teaching.
Ms. Bertolotti: I think in a lot of ways we’re all one. I think that we spend a lot of time focusing on how different we are and it’s more grounding to look at the ways we’re all one and a community here one thing that I feel I consistently do differently and they’re not doing it wrong and I’m not doing it wrong we just do it differently is that I let people do what they really need to do I’m never gonna tell you you can’t go to the bathroom other teachers may do that in their classes but for me I’m going to always put the being before the content.
The Eagle’s Cry: You always preach love is love and everyone one should be accepted and loved for who they are have you ever met any opposition with your ideals?
Ms. Bertolotti: Everyday everyday and I happen to have I guess a privilege in that I do in my own lifestyle and how the way I was born I fit into the social norms and conformity and I face the opposition more as an ally than directly so I’m sure I don’t feel it as much as some people do but there are messages whether it’s inside or outside this building that everyday are telling people that I care about are doing life wrong so I am always going to speak out to correct that.
The Eagle’s Cry: How does it make you feel when someone does not share your ideals like a student who doesn’t think safe space is necessary? What would you say to them?
Ms. Bertolotti: Before I did a lot of work on myself and before I had the level of awareness I have right now I’d get angry. I wouldn’t necessarily yell about it but I would be angry on the inside and frustrated now I understand about everything that people will only understand you at their level of awareness and one of my catchphrases is not everything is for everybody and they can think whatever they want as long as they’re not hurting themselves or anybody else do your thing you don’t have to be a part of it. It’s not for everybody but it’s for anybody
The Eagle’s Cry: Is it important to even still accept that individual for their beliefs even if they don’t share yours?
Ms. Bertolotti: Yeah, absolutely but accepting them or tolerating them doesn’t mean I have to embrace or change mine for them either and we can do it all with kindness.”
The Eagle’s Cry: For the last question If there is a message you want to convey to your students what would it be?
Ms. Bertolotti: You’re perfect.