By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
Editor's Note: Throughout the year, Pope John XXIII Regional High School will feature alumni who have excelled in life since graduating and have represented our school with tremendous pride. In this series, called "Lion Pride," we take a look at 2014 graduate Allison Zuckerman.
Some people are destined to work in a certain profession.
Allison Zuckerman is one of those people when it comes to teaching — a job the 2014 Pope John XXIII Regional High School alumna is doing in Mannheim, Germany after earning a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship following her graduation from Hamilton College in 2018.
Even she believes this is true, considering the Allamuchy native’s passion for teaching and her love for the German language started in the classrooms at Pope John.
“It seemed like it was meant for me,” Zuckerman said recently while visiting Pope John. “I’ve been studying German since I was a freshman in high school and I always wanted to be a teacher. It has worked out pretty well.”
Zuckerman has been around the German culture and teaching all of her life.
She said her mother and current Pope John social studies teacher Sharon Zuckerman always talked about history at the “kitchen counter” and would bring home food from a German butcher. In addition, Zuckerman took German classes at Pope John because she “wanted to be different.”
Like any student growing up, Zuckerman pondered the age-old question of “What can I do later on in life?” That moment turned out to be a distinct one for her.
“I remember my dad telling me, ‘You can teach abroad,’” Zuckerman recalled. “I was like, “Yeah! I could teach abroad!’ It has always been in the back of my mind.”
Since that moment, Zuckerman has devoted a lot of time to her love for teaching and the German language.
As a junior at Pope John, Zuckerman went to Berlin for three weeks as part of an exchange program through the American Association of Teachers of German. In addition, she took German all four years at Pope John, learning under Mrs. Elizabeth Buniak and Mr. Michael Cibenko.
After graduating from Pope John, Zuckerman went on to Hamilton College, where she majored in German Studies and History. During her time there, a professor encouraged her to spend a full academic year abroad, and Zuckerman did just that by living in Munich for 10 months.
While in Munich, Zuckerman not only completed her classwork, but she also earned chances to teach in Germany. She first worked as an English language tutor for a 5-year-old girl who spoke Ukrainian and Russia, then worked at an English language theatre camp for children, and then completed a one-month internship at a bilingual elementary school.
These experiences led Zuckerman to be chosen for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, an honor that is “really incredible” for her to receive.
Since being selected as a Fulbright Scholar, Zuckerman has been teaching students at Ludwig-Frank-Gymnasium in Mannheim, with the students’ grade levels ranging from seventh through 12th grade. In addition, she assisted Pope John by substitute teaching history and German classes while she was visiting the U.S. for a week from March 4-8.
Zuckerman was happy to come back to Pope John and share her experiences.
“It’s so interesting to see these students who are sitting in the same desks as I did when I was in school,” Zuckerman said. “It’s nice to reflect on my time as a student with them and it’s nice to give back to my alma mater.”
More importantly, her teaching endeavors at home and abroad validated Zuckerman’s love for her profession.
“I feel like I am helping people through teaching,” Zuckerman said. “Someone has to do this role and I am really happy to do it.”