Rebecca Paxton Cianfrone has been teaching Italian since 2004 to various ages, from adults and high schoolers to elementary schoolers and young children. Her path to becoming an Italian teacher started in high school when she lived in Oberlin, Ohio. She used to watch Italian films with her mother (an interest in which she still indulges) and was completely enthralled when they enjoyed such masterpieces as Fellini’s La Strada and Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso. She expressed her budding interest to her Sicilian-born Spanish teacher at the time, Francesco Catanese, who returned to Italy that summer and came back the next school year certified and ready to teach Italian to her! Rebecca and Francesco still keep in contact to this day, over 10 years later.
At Skidmore College, Rebecca took Italian classes every semester, along with other classes in her interests of drama, dance, neuroscience and psychology, but it was not until she studied in Milan her junior year that she declared a self-determined major in Italian. It was her first time in Italy and living in a big city; Milan was eye opening, where every day was a linguistic and cultural adventure. Rebecca began her love of travel in this period, visiting all over Italy, as well as parts of Scotland, and Spain. Her senior year of college Rebecca worked closely with faculty members Shirley Smith, who provided her the opportunity to teach after-school Italian at a local elementary school, and Giuseppe Faustini, who encouraged her to apply to the graduate and teaching fellowship programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
At UMASS, Rebecca completed coursework emphasizing language pedagogy and modern and classical Italian literature while teaching elementary and intensive Italian classes to undergraduates. Ever since her time in Milan, Rebecca itched with the travel bug, greatly desiring to return to Italy and study. In the summer of 2006 she completed an intensive Italian graduate course in Urbino, Italy, where she also met the love of her life: Mattia Cianfrone.
Since her time in Urbino Rebecca has returned to Italy several times, visiting Mattia’s family and traveling, always gathering materials for teaching along the way. After she graduated with a M.A.T. (Masters of Arts in Teaching) Italian and initial teaching license for Massachusetts, she worked at Framingham High School for three years, began teaching preschoolers at the Ciociaro Social Club of Massachusetts in Newton, and had the wonderful experience of being a bilingual nanny. When she found out about bilingual family child care, Rebecca took her fondness and ability of teaching Italian to younger children and opened Piccola Italia Preschool! Rebecca and Mattia speak Italian to their own child and they are so excited to give the same opportunity to the children of PIP in their own home, supporting the children’s growth with structure, enthusiasm, patience, and love.