Gabrielle Tucci's Learning Story


Waking up to the smell of a delicious concoction of Chinese herbs, I realized I had just passed out in an acupuncture clinic. I slowly rise with the help of Mrs. Jane Shlensky whose shocked face was turning into a bright smile. I mumble a few words then we both burst into laughing. Mrs. Shlensky is by far the most effective teacher I have ever had in my 23 years of life. When I went off to boarding school my junior year in high school I was lost in the rigorous academics that were set before me. I was losing weight, sleep, and an overall self-confidence. The only thing that was keeping hope alive was my 3rd period class, American Literature with Mrs. Shlensky. She opened up class with a great American musical hit, somehow perfectly twisted it to compliment the text we were reading, and still was able to leave room for her students to discover themselves. Senior year, without much interest in Asian Studies, I signed up for Asian Literature and History, a class that Mrs. Shlensky taught to seniors. I was only required to take two trimesters, but without a blink of my eye, I signed up for all three. She opened up my world to China, Japan, India, and more. She wore traditional clothing from each country, brought in food, and often spoke the languages just to allow her students to get the full experience. Without even trying, I fell in love with the Asian world. We started having daily afternoon chats over tea about what China was like as she shared her experience with me through words, music, and the most amazing artifacts she accumulated during the 9 years she lived there. She started giving me private Mandarin lessons and helped me get a trip together to go there my senior year. I began exploring acupuncture and acupressure with her beside me and soon enough she arranged a few practitioners to come in for a demonstration. Mrs. Shlensky was not satisfied, as she knew I was craving more information, so she set up a day for me to visit a clinic and to shadow a doctor. She came with me and after witnessing my first demonstration on a real body; my real body hit the floor. The best part about Mrs. Shlensky was that even though I often fell, she was always there to pick me up. She told me I would grow into it being able to stomach the needles, and that not to give up because I was destined for greatness. We made up a grand plan that after she retired and when I was past my first career, we would open up a duel acupuncture clinic for both adults and animals. (I still believe one day this will happen!)In college, I toyed around with Biology for a while as it had always been my strong point, but early sophomore year, after a delicious dinner with Mrs. Shlensky, it was clear that my passion was in English and Asian Studies so I dropped the Biology and graduated with a double major. I will never forget how proud I was when I was able to ‘converse’ with her over dinner in my beginners Chinese after my first year in college as she laughed and helped me stumble through my three word sentences. I am now a high school English teacher, reflecting daily on her best practices in keeping her students engaged, in her infectious passion, and her contagious positivity that allowed me to learn every single day. The best part about Mrs. Shlensky is that I continue to learn from her even though we don’t stay in touch as much as we used to. I learn through the memory of the two amazing years I had with her as my teacher and the years after as a mentor and friend. I live daily through this outstanding teacher and she was extremely effective in not only teaching me English and Asian Studies, but for allowing me to become who I am today.