Cinotti retiring from Glen Ridge schools after 21 years in district

Photo by Daniel Jackovino
Ridgewood Avenue School science teacher Paulette Cinotti is retiring after 21 years in the district.

GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Paulette Cinotti, a sixth-grade science teacher at Ridgewood Avenue School, is retiring this month after 21 years in the district. Cinotti spent her first five years at Forest Avenue School and the next 16 years at Ridgewood. She grew up in Jersey City and attended St. Aloysius High School; she ultimately received her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and teaching certificate from Montclair State University.

She said in her “first life,” between high school graduation and her first year in college some years later, she was a radiological technologist and taught X-ray technology at the Jersey City Medical Center. She resigned from that job to have children and went back to school, she said, later in life. She is a Glen Ridge resident, and her children went through the Glen Ridge school system. Her husband, Donald, is a medical doctor. She has three sons and five grandchildren.

Looking back on her career, Cinotti said the fundamentals of teaching have mostly remained the same.

“It used to be that the teachers were the givers and the students the receivers,” she said. “Now the teachers are the facilitators. It’s more active for the students, and we have to learn with virtual teaching. But the goal of teaching hasn’t changed if you love it. The goal is to have the students learn no matter how they learn.”

Cinotti, whose father was a railroad engineer and mother a homemaker, said that when she was in high school she had a wonderful social studies teacher named Grace Gargiulo.

“She was amazing,” Cinotti said. “She was a full-time teacher and had seven children. Coincidentally, one of her daughters was a physical education teacher in Glen Ridge.

“I was observing her and wanted to be like her,” she continued. 

Cinotti said teaching sixth grade is special because it is the first year that science is taught every day.

“It’s great because you can get so much done,” she said. “And it’s great when students come back from high school and say they’re still using the science notes from my class.”

Because of her position as the only middle school science teacher in Glen Ridge, Cinotti said she has pretty much, at one time or another, taught every student in the borough science.

Thinking about her current students, Cinotti said she is proud of them for having gotten to where they are over the last two years, which have been tough. She also said she is proud of her teaching colleagues, who have learned new ways to teach in a virtual world.

“Virtual learning wasn’t good for most students,” she said. “They need to socialize; the younger students need to interact.” 

She said it was very difficult to teach science virtually. Many of her colleagues, she said, even hand-delivered supplies the students needed to accomplish their lessons.

“But it’s time to pass the baton,” Cinotti said. “I would like to spend more time with my grandchildren and travel. Retiring wasn’t an easy decision to make, but last summer I decided to retire. But I didn’t put my papers in until March. I wanted to be sure. I love what I’m doing, and I’m good at it.”