This year marks 37 years since Marilouise Mazzante began working as a social studies teacher at Williamsport Area High School, and with the trademark enthusiasm for which she is known, she will be the first to say: "I go to school every day. I don't go to work."
"Teaching is all I've ever wanted to do since I was in fourth grade," she added. "I love school and I love education. To be successful one must have passion for what they do. Students recognize the level of commitment a teacher conveys and they will gravitate toward the same expectation level they see daily."
Affectionately referred to as "Maz" by her students, colleagues and friends alike, the high school teacher estimates she has taught a student base of slightly more than that of the entire current district population of about 5,300.
Marilouise Mazzante listens as a student discusses an issue in character during a recent Enlightenment Salon.
In addition to teaching, she helps lead National Honor Society, Model U.N., ConCon, is a former track and cross country coach of 20 years, and is a department leader and co-coordinator for graduation. Her Model U.N. and ConCon teams have, over the years, dominated at conventions. She's led student delegates and groups that have been well prepared - with the awards to prove it.
Mazzante has earned a number of civic awards and honors, including being Rotary's Honoree of the Year in 2011; has been nominated by students and selected numerous times for the Who's Who Among America's Teachers; elected to Lycoming County and state hall of fames; a nominee for Disney Hand, a national recognition; the 1994 WAHS Teacher of the Year recipient; and serves on many educational, service and athletic committees.
Each day, Mazzante said she tries to employ her personal philosophy of creating a positive experience for students, all of whom come from different walks of life - out of the same classroom she has taught for more than 30 years.
"What makes teaching so important and rewarding is watching students grow academically, athletically and socially," she said. "Education is all about the kids. We do what we do daily to support them in this process to enable them to reach their potential and become the best they can be. Looking at the excitement in their faces when they feel success is the ultimate in teaching."
She believes her time here in the district has been just as good to her as she has been to it, noting the many professional development opportunities made available to her, as well having it been most supportive in curriculum development, not only within the school but also outside of the building, to supplement the curriculum.
Senior Stacy Loveland described "Maz" as "very enthusiastic" and a "great example of someone who understands and practices respect" for the subject she teaches, her students and her peers.
"Maz brings history to life every day in the classroom," Loveland said, "and really helps her students to connect the past to the present."
Most recently, the social studies teacher held an Enlightenment Salon, during which students dressed as pillars of the 17th and 18th centuries to participate in a tea to discuss the highly contested topics of science and religion during the Age of Enlightenment. Additionally, she conducts a Meeting of the Minds roundtable each year, in which students assume the roles of former world leaders to discuss modern issues from the perspective of their chosen role.
"The unique way in which Maz prompts individuals to interact with history brings excitement to students," said junior Alanna Harding. "As students learn the information, Maz encourages us to find connections across time and to dig deeper to understand more than the base facts."
Senior Daniel Ma said Mazzante "always keeps her students engaged" and her passion "creates a fun, exciting and active learning environment."
"She does more than teach the material," Ma said. "She has taught me lessons about thinking critically, working hard and striving to always improve."
But just as Mazzante teaches her students, she learns from them just the same.
"They teach me that we all are lifelong learners," she said. "I continue to learn not only factual information but also - more importantly - about different learning styles, about the dynamics of family impact on students, about the impact we, as educators, have on their lives. They give and we give back."
Senior Dalton Lovell agrees, noting that every day in Mazzante's classroom is as memorable as the one that came before it, even echoing his teacher when he described the experience of being in her classroom.
"There is an old saying that she embodies perfectly, and that saying is 'If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.' Anybody who knows Maz knows she has never worked, she has simply 'gone to school.' "