In Memoriam: Nancy A. Carnevale, RIC educator, alum

Nancy Carnevale
Nancy A. Carnevale of Cranston, a RIC adjunct faculty member and graduate, passed away on July 17 after a battle with cancer. She was 60.

Nancy Carnevale served as an adjunct professor in the MEd in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Program at Rhode Island College, and also taught on an adjunct basis at Lesley University and Providence College. She further served RIC as a cooperating teacher for elementary education student teachers.

Those who took graduate TESL classes with her uniformly praised her unique abilities, with comments such as the following:

“Professor Carnevale is the most enthusiastic teacher I’ve ever seen. Her philosophy of teaching ESL students inspired me a lot.”

“Her charisma and energy is infectious.”

“I am truly a better teacher because of her outstanding information, suggestions and techniques.”

“As a professional and minority woman, she has motivated me to do better and keep moving ahead in my career.”

“She is, without question, the best teacher/professor I have ever had in my educational experience.”

Nancy Carnevale was also a much-celebrated ESL teacher who worked from 1988 to the present in elementary ESL classrooms in Central Falls. She taught English Language Learners (ELLs) in Grades K, 2, 3 and 5, and in the last year of her life took on the role of Sheltered Instruction (SIOP) Coach for the district. She was known to excel in every role she held and was admired by all who knew her and were mentored by her.

In 2004, she earned an individualized master’s degree in education from RIC in which she combined courses from the Urban, Multicultural Special Education and TESL Masters Programs. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island.

She was a National Board Certified English as New Language teacher, an honor bestowed in 2000 and 2010.

She gave many professional presentations at statewide conferences in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Illinois. She was a Fulbright Scholar, who participated in a teacher exchange program in 2001 in Inhumas, Brazil, where she served as a teacher trainer for Brazilian teachers.

She was also involved with the Brown University and Central Falls School Department Arts Literacy Project, now known as TALL University, and was named a Technology Fellow in the R.I. Teachers and Technology Initiative (RITTI), where she also served as a lead trainer from 1997-99.

Nancy Carnevale was described as an inspired teacher who constantly sought to advance her practice. She served as a model of best practices in urban education for ELLs. She was recognized for her passion, her love for and unwavering dedication to her students, her collaborative nature and for her clarity of vision that teaching is most successful when you “teach from the heart.”

A fierce advocate for the rights of and best practices for English Language Learners, she served on the LEP/ELL Advisory Council from 1999 to the present and she also served in her district on many committees, such as the School Improvement Team and the Technology Committee. In these roles, she worked with dedication to make sure that ELLs had access to the highest quality education possible and that assessment policies were fairly established for children in the process of learning English.

Most recently she authored a chapter in the TESOL Publication “Teaching Listening: Voices From the Field,” edited by Nikki Ashcraft and Anh Tran (2010). Her chapter was titled “Listening, Thinking, and Understanding: Preparing Elementary School Students to Listen and Process in English.”

Nancy Carnevale’s students summarize her legacy best. They wrote of their teacher:

• Mrs. Carnevale taught me to use college words. One of my favorite words was “pursuit.” We learned to recite the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and that word means that it is something you really want to get.

• You would always say, "Pack your problems or worries and leave it in a suitcase outside the door.” You always helped me when I needed it.

• I loved math groups with Mrs. Carnevale because she helped us to teach each other to figure out the answers.

• I’m not afraid to speak in front of people because Mrs. Carnevale made me practice explaining things like I was “telling a three-year-old” and making it easy to understand.

• I love you and look up to you. You are very special to me. It's kind of hard to describe love with words.

A Memorial Mass will take place on Aug. 6 at 10 a.m. in St. Benedict's Church, 135 Beach Avenue, Warwick, RI.

In lieu of flowers, her family requests that donations be made to a teaching award established in her honor: The Nancy Carnevale Urban Teacher Award/Rhode Island Teachers of English Language Learners, c/o Dr. Nancy Cloud, Rhode Island College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue, HBS 220, Providence, RI 02908.

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