Photo courtesy of Chris Cirrincione.

Elizabeth Keane

For spanish teacher Chris Cirrincione, it’s the little things that make Prospect such a “special place to work.” This includes going out for lunch with some of his best friends on the staff or receiving a Diet Coke from his students in the middle of the day because they know it’s his favorite drink.

According to Cirrincione, these people and relationships he has formed will be what he misses most upon leaving Prospect at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Cirrincione will pursue a new position as assistant principal at Palatine High School in District 211.

Cirrincione taught Spanish levels I and II, acted as an Associate Student Body (ASB) advisor and is one of the debate coaches. 

“I’ve always known [that] I wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn’t until I got to high school and really experienced the vibrancy that comes after the final bell,” Cirrincione said. “I love teaching, but the amazing thing about high school is what happens after the end of the day between sports, activities and the school culture that we’re able to do.”

This led Cirrincione to begin working on ASB, where the three essential principles are for every knight to be included, be engaged and be empowered in the learning environment. 

“We need to make a bigger stride to include our students of color, women, our students of LGBTQ, students with disabilities, students who identify as an ‘other’ from the dominant culture,” Cirrincione said. 

According to Cirrincione, the pandemic has posed some challenges to making every student feel included; even though the whole school cannot be together, he still wants to make a point of celebrating all students.

This led him to create a way to celebrate awareness months and give all students, whether in person or at home, ways to learn more about various struggles of certain groups but also to celebrate the excellence of these groups. 

“To celebrate Black History Month, but to do it very purposefully,” Cirrincione said. “[We wanted] to have a week where we celebrated all of the amazing accomplishments of Black Americans, and then to do kind of the same idea with Women’s History Month.”

According to Cirrincione, Prospect will continue to provide students with resources for other months such as Hispanic heritage month in September or with various disability awareness campaigns throughout the year.
As a spanish teacher, Cirrincione’s favorite memory in his four years here was when he had the opportunity to travel to Spain in Spring Break of 2019 and watch Spanish students grow in their speaking abilities. 

“It made me feel really proud as a teacher that we were able to really share this Hispanic language and culture with students,” Cirrincione said. 

Senior Aleksandra Kostova had Cirrincione for Spanish II her freshman year, and she recalls that class to be extremely engaging, noting that “something new happened every day.” She appreciated the low-pressure environment and valued her ability to actively learn the language while still getting to know her other classmates. 

“You need to be awake in that classroom,” Kostova said. “That’s the environment; he’s always high in energy, and he’s always clapping.”

During her junior year, Kostova became a Teaching Assistant (TA) for Cirrincione, and this really solidified her decision to pursue becoming a spanish teacher herself. 

“Being a TA for him opened up my eyes to a few other things [about] what educational skills look like, especially in high school,” Kostova said.

Among Cirrincione’s other favorite memories was the powder toss, and he was proud to report that about 1100 students participated in it last year. 

“[The powder toss] shows that we are really one school, we are one color, we are one group of students, and that is something I will take with me wherever I go,” Cirrincione said. 

Looking forward, Cirrincione will never forget how much he has learned from working with Prospect administration, and he is very excited that he will have the opportunity to continue collaborating with both students and staff on a daily basis in his new endeavor in Palatine. 

“To be a successful administrator, I really need to make established, really strong relationships, get to know people’s stories and background,” Cirrincione said. “That’s how [I will] be able to best support them.”