Aurelia Dochnal '19 interviewed High School Italian Teacher Mr. Mario D'Azzo, who began teaching at TASIS in 2000 and was the Khan-Page Master Teacher Award recipient in 2015.
When did you start teaching at TASIS?
I started in August 2000. I was contacted by a colleague from the school in Lugano where I worked at the time.
What classes do you teach, and what else are you involved with at TASIS?
The first year I taught six language classes, and in the second year I got involved with the IB program. Now I am a full-time IB teacher, and I have been mainly teaching IB Italian Literature classes. I also teach Italian to the Faculty, am an Advisor, and am involved in the athletics program.
Could you please describe your educational background and career in education prior to TASIS?
Although I was born in Pavia, I grew up in Sicily. Then my family moved to Milan, where I studied history and literature at the University of Milan. When studying languages, I spent a year in Paris and six months in Cambridge.
In my career I have always combined teaching with music. I am a singer-songwriter-composer, and I have published five albums. I keep on writing music and poetry. Music is very important to me, and at the same time I love teaching. It is a beautiful profession because I always work with young people. Every day I am confronted with new issues and new themes that are related to youth.
Could you please briefly describe your teaching philosophy?
I like to look at teaching as an opportunity to build values and virtues, both in the students and also in the teacher. One has to be aware that by teaching and transferring knowledge, there is some sort of intrusion into the young student's life. Because everyone has a different cultural background, it is better to be sure that by doing your work you show a lot of respect and try to remain emotionally detached. We are dealing with human beings who are still young, but I like to see them as souls, and we are all on the same trip, at least for a while. Better to learn something out of that; still there is always that space of the other that has to be respected.
An important part of teaching is also to keep humor alive. We often have to repeat the same notions, which is the basis of teaching, and this might be tedious. I want students to enjoy the time we share together.
What do you like most about working at TASIS?
It is a multicultural environment, which makes for a unique and very pleasant atmosphere around campus. Teaching such international girls and boys is an enriching experience for a human being.
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