Henrico’s Top Teachers – Marc Seccia
Pinchbeck E.S., fifth grade
Marc Seccia credits his wife, Ginny, for inspiring him to become a teacher. A first-grade teacher at Crestview Elementary School, Ginny has taught for almost 20 years.
"Any award or recognition I receive should be partly shared by her," Seccia said. "She helped me develop a path toward reaching my degree after I stopped working in communications."
He also credits teachers from his childhood home of Brooklyn, N.Y., for motivating him to excel in certain subjects – particularly music.
"Mr. Tucker and Mr. Rubin took chances with their kids," said Seccia, noting that the teachers pushed their students to play in public places and become visible in the community. "I still play music as a result of their strong feelings about how music influences work and helps energize the mind.
"It is also a great stress reliever!" he added.
A parent who wrote to nominate Seccia emphasized that the teacher has a talent for energizing his students' minds as well, and that it is evident he truly cares for them.
"He makes himself available when they need extra help, and helps them with more then just the book lessons," wrote the parent, noting that Seccia helps impart life lessons as well.
Among those lessons are the ability to help children understand how to deal with what the parent called the "not-so-nice-people" of the world, and how to let the "small, petty things roll off their backs." While a parent can try and fail to teach this lesson time and time again, wrote the nominator, the children take it seriously when it comes from Seccia.
"My [child] looks up to Mr. Seccia as a great person and teacher," wrote the parent. "[My child] wants to be a teacher someday and be able to get through to kids the way he does."
Among his biggest challenges as a teacher, Seccia said, is facing a changing and diverse student population that is constantly acquiring more ways to find information and guiding those students through "a flood of resources" toward the ones that are the best for their needs.
"In truth," he said, "the real answer is being passionate about what it is that you are teaching, be confident in the way that you are teaching it, and be willing to try things and not always succeed the first time." Seccia is proud to have known many wonderful teachers in his life -- not only as colleagues, but as a student, parent, mentor and friend.
"Teachers are the lifeblood of this country," he said, "the heart and soul of what makes this society the one that most around the world flock toward." He sees his life work as helping to fulfill the American dream, because as an educator he can help students open doors, find ways to problem-solve and learn to persevere through adversity.
One memorable student who persevered through adversity spent the school year in a wheelchair after a car accident but progressed throughout the year until he was able to walk out the door at year's end.
"Every teacher and student in that school lined the walkways that day and cheered for this boy who had gone through so much. He triumphantly made it from my classroom to the front entrance, being cheered the entire way. There wasn't a dry eye in the building."
Another former student who stands out in Seccia's mind is the one who told him that he was responsible for her becoming a teacher.
"She said [she chose teaching]," he recalled "because I had inspired her to help others -- and the best way that she thought she could was to become a teacher like me."
His most satisfying moments as a teacher, Seccia said, are having students like that come back to tell him "how great they are doing, or how happy they are that they listened to me and stayed positive about school and their education.
"The human reward that you get from this job is unparalleled."
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