The Burning Question: Where is She Now?
At the start of the school year, many students entered the building with a feeling of unease, a feeling that something was different. That something, they quickly learned, was that English and Journalism 1 teacher Angela Mazza had retired over the summer.
Though news of her retirement spread quickly through Facebook statuses and back-to-school gossip, most students continued to wonder: where is Mazza? The Foreword, in an exclusive phone interview with Ms. Mazza, got the inside scoop on her sudden retirement.
“I knew I couldn’t be teaching forever!” Mazza said. “It was a terribly hard decision. I kept thinking about it, and putting it off. I was probably avoiding it, but it’s a big change in a person’s life!”
What prompted this sudden choice? Mazza had been thinking about it for a while, but what pushed her into action was her overseas adventure during the summer. Mazza spent eight days in Paris with her sister Rose Marie, also a retired Pittsburgh Public School teacher, and their childhood friend, Sam. She did not initially want to go on the trip (she had visited Paris four previous times), but ended up having a “fabulous time.” Mazza realized she loved having the freedom to travel and no longer wanted to be confined by the tiring schedule of teaching.
By the time Mazza decided to retire, she felt that the school had changed tremendously over the years. By last year, things were busier than ever, and she was unable to spend any time with other teachers. “People don’t think of teaching as a physical job, but you do have to get up, be prepared, and be alert…it was time for me to make a change in a different direction, to enjoy myself. Everything revolved around school, school, school. It was a grinding schedule.”
Once Mazza arrived back in Pittsburgh, she announced that she would not be returning to Allderdice. Mazza said that the decision was, like all decisions in her life, last minute. “I told the board on Monday the 22nd of August. They understood. I don’t think they really cared.”
What is she doing with her time now? “I love not having to be somewhere everyday… As the French say, it’s ‘dolce far niente.’ Sweet to do nothing!” Paris not only added to Mazza’s language, but to her lifestyle as well. “I had a party after my France trip where I made French hors d’oeuvres…I’ve been cooking more. I do like to cook.” Aside from relaxing, Mazza has been catching up with old Allderdice colleagues, including Dr.Srocki, Dr.Troyani, and Ms.Wallach.
“I don’t think I could ever come back in the building again,” she said. “I think I’d just be too emotional! I had a wonderful experience [at Allderdice] I wouldn’t trade.”
Finally, Mazza talked about her favorite students. “The journalism students.” She paused dramatically. “Like me, they’re curious, inquisitive, and care about what’s going on. For that we have a common bond.” Not only were the students her favorites, but the subject enthralled Mazza like no other. “Journalism was really my passion,” she said.
There is no doubt, Mazza taught her passion to the fullest of her ability. “My best memories are seeing students be successful in their own careers.” One of Mazza’s former students, Sharon Epperson, is now an award-winning journalist and author. Mazza also recalls seeing two former students become teachers, and encountering them years later at teacher conferences. “They’d come up and say, ‘remember me?’”
Of course, we will all remember her as one of a kind. “I hope if it was a good experience for me, it was a good experience for the students,” Mazza remarked as she said her final goodbyes.