Linda Capuzelo-Akechoud: Teaching Wisdom

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Linda Capuzelo-Akechoud: Teaching Wisdom

Linda Capuzelo-Akechoud at her desk in the Foreign Language Office.

Linda Capuzelo-Akechoud at her desk in the Foreign Language Office.

Linda Capuzelo-Akechoud at her desk in the Foreign Language Office.

Linda Capuzelo-Akechoud at her desk in the Foreign Language Office.

By Adisa Ozegovic, Staff Writer

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It is difficult to imagine an instance when class with French and Spanish teacher Linda Capuzelo-Akechoud could ever be boring. Born of Italian descent, Capuzelo has a vibrant personality that entices the entire classroom. If one could attach a color to her character, it would most certainly be the same shade of lipstick she typically wears: bright red.

Teaching is an ability that comes instinctively to Capuzelo. As a young girl, she was sure that teaching was the profession she would end up going into because of her love of explanation.

“I felt that it was something natural; it came naturally. Something that felt comfortable,” Capuzelo said. “I always enjoyed explaining things. How to do things. I mean, that was when I was little.”

Along with teaching, Capuzelo’s fondness for Spanish language developed from her first day of high school when she took a Spanish course that instantly became her favorite class due to the similarities between Spanish and her family’s language, Italian.

“Of all the classes I took, I fell in love with Spanish on day one,” Capuzelo said. “It was very close to my family of origin’s language. They speak Italian. I couldn’t find any Italian, so I decided to try Spanish.”

When she graduated from college, Capuzelo had a Spanish major and was not certain that she wanted to immediately begin teaching. She shared her doubts with her boss at the time, who advised her to study in France to broaden her horizons. After a year of studying in Paris, Capuzelo received a bachelor’s degree in French.

“I majored in Spanish, and then I got minors in Italian and French. [At the time], I worked for a French travel insurance company in the evenings to pay for my college. When I did that, I got to use some of the French I was learning,” Capuzelo said. “My boss was from France. I told him that after I graduated college, I wasn’t sure that I immediately wanted to go into teaching. I wasn’t sure.  And he said, ‘Go to France. Study in France for a year and that will open your horizons.’ And so that’s what I did.”

This was only the beginning of Capuzelo’s travels. She has traveled in many other locations around France and has visited several South American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Spain. For a brief time, she even went on a jungle tour in the Amazon and to Brazil on a journey of self-discovery, where she uncovered the true beauty of people and nature.

“[I discovered] that no matter where I’ve gone, I could find beauty in the people I met. I never ceased to be amazed by new discoveries. You can find very kind people everywhere. No matter what language you speak,” Capuzelo said. “I didn’t speak Portuguese. I could kind of understand it, but we got along anyway. We were all very kind to each other.”

Due to all of the experiences that Capuzelo has acquired through her years, her students find that she provides them with wonderful advice within the classroom. As a result, her classroom environment is almost familial; Capuzelo can often be found sharing her wisdom with her students.

“She is a very energetic teacher. Her personality is unique,” senior Nasim Salehitazangi, who had Capuzelo for her French course last year, said. “Not only does she always make her class laugh, but she’s really good at giving advice. Junior year was very stressful, but she always knew exactly what to say to make us feel calm. The best thing about her is that she was able to not only teach us French, but also teach us important life lessons like dealing with stress.”

According to sophomore Carmin Raciti, who has Capuzelo for Spanish this year, the qualities that set Capuzelo apart from other faculty are her stories, sense of humor, and overall mannerisms.

“I’d probably have to say her life stories and jokes [stand out],” Raciti said. “She’s Italian, so I guess there’s something about the way she presents herself while telling them and the way she talks with her hands makes me laugh and reminds me of my grandmother. She is willing to share things to benefit us in someway. Most teachers just stick to the curriculum.”

This year will be Capuzelo’s last year teaching at West as she plans to retire next year. Upon retirement, Capuzelo intends to travel to Delaware, Slovenia, and Italy where she will meet family members and admire the new locations.

Despite this, she finds that she is going to miss teaching the diverse group of the students within the school most of all.

“I’m going to miss the kids,” she said. “I’m going to miss teaching the kids. Especially teaching in such a diverse environment and having so many different types of students and trying to be able to accommodate each one in his or her different way.”

While Capuzelo still has many life lessons to teach such as respect in all forms, she believes forgiveness to be the most important lesson she wishes to pass on to her students and others.

“I have a lot of lessons. But one is to respect yourself and respect others,” Capuzelo said. “Be forgiving. Know how to forgive people who are difficult, or learn how to forgive people who are difficult. It is the biggest life lesson I’ve learned, so naturally, I’d like to pass that on to students. It’s extremely important. Forgiveness. It’s one of the biggest lessons in life.”

According to Salehitazangi, Capuzelo’s departure will be felt throughout the school, and it to be unfortunate that other students will not be able to meet her.

“I think the foreign language department will definitely feel her absence,” she said. “It’s really unfortunate that the younger generation won’t have her. She has a very caring soul and lights up everyone’s day. It’ll be very upsetting not to have that around anymore.”