Career in education fulfills childhood ambition

Published 11:21 am Friday, November 1, 2013


Christopher Tsitsera -- MERLE MONAHAN | TIDEWATER NEWS


FRANKLIN—When Christopher Tsitsera was in elementary school in upstate New York, he already knew what vocation he would choose when he grew up.

“Well, I actually had two choices,” he said. “I wanted to be an elementary teacher like my second-grade teacher and I wanted to be in the fire department like my dad, grandfather and sister.

“I envisioned that I would serve as a professional firefighter for about 20 years, retire, and then start teaching,” Tsitsera said with a smile.

It didn’t turn out that way, however. He became a teacher in 1995, and feels right at home. He volunteers with a local fire department on his off time.

Tsitsera earned his teaching credentials while volunteering with his hometown fire department in New York. Consequently, after completing his training, he applied for positions with both the school system and fire department at the same time.

“My acceptance as a teacher in a Virginia Beach school came in first, so I accepted the position. I had just gotten settled when I was accepted by the fire department,” he said.

Tsitsera said he decided to stay with teaching, since he had already moved from one part of the U.S. to the other.

“I haven’t been sorry,” he added. “I love teaching.”

Tsitsera obviously wanted to be prepared for whatever direction was strongest because he graduated from State University of New York New Paltz with a degree in elementary graduation. He then earned his master’s in administration at Norfolk State after he came to Virginia.

He said he taught for six years at Virginia Beach, before taking an assistant principal position also at the beach. He was in that position for five years.

“I then had the opportunity to become principal of Riverdale Elementary, where I was working when I took the principal’s position here.

“I moved from there to Nottoway Elementary this year.”

Tsitsera, 40, who lives in Franklin, said he is getting to know the area and has become involved in several outside activities.

“The first thing I did was to volunteer for the Hunterdale Fire Department. I’m trying to get my EMT status back, but it’s hard to find the time. The school system has a lot of meetings.”

He said he doesn’t know why he became so interested in his hometown fire department, unless it is because his entire family is involved.

“My dad and grandfather have been members all my life and my great-grandfather helped organize the department closest to our home.

“And when there is a fundraiser or dinner for the firemen, both my mom and my sister are right there.

“It isn’t so unusual, though. I’ve learned that around here, families do the same thing – if grandfather is a volunteer, then the next few generations follow suit.”

But, back to his current position. The educator is adamant about children getting a good education.

“With it, they can do anything they want to in life. Without it, they’re lost in today’s world,” he said.

Aside from his duties at work, Tsitsera also teaches a class every semester on Childhood Development at Paul D. Camp Community College. He sits on the board of the Children’s Center, as well.

Tsitsera believes his position at the 290-student school is where he should be.

“I enjoy the day-to-day activities, and it gives me such a good feeling to see the interest and wonderment on the young children’s faces when they learn something new.

“Nottoway is a very productive school,” he continued. “We have some of the best and most dedicated teachers in the county.

“I’m also very proud of our parents’ involvement. You’d be surprised at how much that helps.”

NAME: Christopher Tsitsera.

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: A teaching position at Virginia Beach.

HOMETOWN: Upstate New York.

OCCUPATION: Principal of Nottoway Elementary School.

MARITAL STATUS: Currently in a relationship.

CHILDREN, AGES AND SCHOOLS: I have a daughter, Brianna, who is 13. She attends school in upstate New York.

FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: Dinner out with friends and a Legwarmers concert in Norfolk.

FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Samari, a Japanese restaurant in Chesapeake.


WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: That I was raised on a poultry farm in upstate New York.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: I enjoy working with kids and volunteering.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: Procrastination.

PETS: None.

FAVORITE HOBBIES: Volunteering with the Hunterdale Fire Department.

PET PEEVE: People who don’t know the importance of education.

FIRST JOB: Working for P.T. Motors, a shop that repairs heat pump motors.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As one who gave 110 percent to helping and educating kids.

IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULE YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: My topic would be the importance of education for our young people. First, I would urge parents to insist that their children attend school and learn everything offered to them, including how to get along with their peers, respect for others and how to work as a team. The world they’re getting ready to enter is hard and it’s so much easier if they’re prepared.