For Martha Ferra, a second grade teacher at Gilbert W. McNeal Elementary School, the start of the new school year became a dream come true when her daughter joined her as a teacher at the same school.
Ferra’s daughter, Xiomara Cappiello, will spend her first year at McNeal Elementary as a third grade teacher.
“She is following my steps as a teacher, and then to see her become who she is — a great teacher — I’m proud of her,” Ferra said. “It’s emotional. My mom was a teacher too, so it’s in the family.”
Cappiello said teaching at the same school gives her the opportunity to spend more time with her mother, who started her teaching career at McNeal Elementary when it opened in 2003.
“I love this school,” Ferra said. “McNeal is a great school for anyone to teach. The staff, the administrators, they’re all very good. The students and families are very supportive of us.”
The school is also special to Cappiello because she spent her mornings as a seventh and eighth grader there working with her mother before heading off to classes next door at R. Dan Nolan Middle School.
“McNeal has always been close to my heart,” Cappiello said. “It’s kind of cool to come back and be here in a different light.”
Knowing her lifelong dream was to become a teacher, Cappiello, who is in her sixth year of teaching, said that while she was helping her mom in the morning before school, she envisioned herself teaching at McNeal Elementary someday.
“I remember when I was in elementary school, always wanting to be a teacher,” she said. “So when I graduated high school and started [college], there was not really any other options in my mind. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do. It’s a lifelong dream of mine. I love it.”
When school began Aug. 12, both Ferra and Cappiello said they were ready to get to know their students and start the school year.
“I’m looking forward to just getting my feet under me and getting to know the school and the students and getting myself accustomed,” Cappiello said.
Cappiello said her mother has been most helpful with “the little day-to-day things” when she asks Ferra questions throughout the day.
“It’s very comforting knowing I have someone I can easily turn to for support aside from my third grade team, which has been so welcoming and helpful as well,” she said.