Today we connected with Principal Matt Scannapieco at Maria Regina Catholic School in Seaford. Big upgrades are happening at the school this summer, and students will have an exciting return in the fall. In today’s interview, I learn about the fun and creative approach to learning at Maria Regina Catholic School.
Emily Guarnieri – I am eager to talk about your school, which is where I began my career, but will you promise to tell me why you’ve been riding a tiny tricycle around your school? It’s so unusual – I saw the video on Instagram.
Principal Matt Scannapieco – Oh, it was definitely silly. But the students had fun with it and it helped us raise a lot for our Day of Giving fundraiser. I’m happy to get into that, but I’d love to talk about our weekly TV broadcast first.
EG – Yes. Tell me about the weekly broadcast and journalism focus at your school. We didn’t have this when I taught at MR.
MS – The weekly broadcast is currently in its 4th year. We celebrated our 100th episode earlier this school year. It is run by the Student Council and more recently the Builders Club has joined in–two of our student leadership groups within the school. The broadcast is moderated by our Middle School History teacher and our Technology Coordinator. The moderators do all the editing and most of the script-writing, and the students do much of the filming and segment performances all by themselves. It’s great!
The broadcast has a number of recurring segments such as Finding God In All Things, our weekly class spotlight, the dad joke of the week–that’s my segment. We also have student of the week interviews by one of our middle school teachers.
It airs every Friday and runs anywhere from 15-30 minutes. The whole community loves watching it and it’s a nice way to recap events that happened that week, preview things that are coming up, and celebrate all that we do.
EG – This broadcast space is expanding, is that right? Doubling in size. What’s the vision?
MS – It will continue as a multimedia center and house our broadcast program. But it will also become a Makerspace/Technology Lab where we’ll have our 3D printers and robot kits.
EG – Makerspace? Tell everyone what this will look like. Is this where future engineers get their start?
I see a Makerspace as simply a space designed and dedicated to hands-on creativity. I want student creation to be at the forefront of their learning. Whether it’s creating a learning portfolio to show their strengths, weaknesses, and growth over time, building and coding a robot, or designing and then 3D printing historical tools after a lesson on ancient civilizations. When students are creating, they are learning.
A Makerspace center will open the door to many new opportunities that MR students typically have not had available to them. We’ll be able to set up our 3D printers, have a space for a burgeoning robotics program, and also have a green screen set-up where our broadcast will have dedicated space to create their weekly programming.
“Technology is not about consuming, but producing. It’s about creating and learning. If we model this virtue early in their lives, we hope students will carry it with them for a lifetime.”Principal Matt Scannapieco, Maria Regina School
EG – If I can be blunt–all this sounds expensive. Tell me about the fundraising campaign.
MS – This was done in February during the NCEA Day of Giving campaign. Many of our Diocesan schools participated. It started at 12 noon on February 1st and lasted until 12 noon on February 2nd–24 hours total. There were 281 individual donations representing roughly 100 school and Parish families. The total amount raised was a little over $31,000.
EG – Impressive! Is this where you teased the idea of the tricycle?
MS – Yes! We had a number of incentives we offered students. We were founded on 1/29–in 1962–so I was giving away 3 No Uniform Today Cards to all families that made a donation of $129 specifically. So naturally families gave that amount multiple times.
We also did silly things like allow for a guest spot on the Dad Joke of the Week segment for families that donated during a very specific hour. We also awarded Principal for the Day to the family that made the 60th donation of $129. The 60 is because we are celebrating our 60th anniversary.
The big incentive was that I would ride a tricycle around school all day if we hit our goal of $25,000. Our pastor, Fr. Jason, also offered to complete the Hot Wing challenge, where he would be interviewed by the student body while eating wings with progressively hotter hot sauce.
EG – Is this your first big fundraiser?
MS – Well, in October  we had our Royal Run fundraiser where we also exceeded our targeted goal of $20,000–we raised $26,000. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the Maria Regina Community is passionate, generous, and dedicated to our school. The big incentive with this fundraiser was that the pastor and I agreed to be slimed in front of the entire school community.
EG – Principals are intense. When does construction begin? What can families look forward to when their kids return in the fall?
MS – We’ve already started cleaning out what we can from one of the two rooms we’ll be combining. Demolition will begin June 11th–that’s the earliest day we can begin with the construction part of it. Families can look forward to a modern, inviting, collaborative learning space. Not that we don’t already have that in our normal classroom experience, but having a larger space that can be flexible enough to accommodate a robotics program, research projects, and our broadcast–to name a few–is something the school lacks from a resources point of view.
EG – Technology is central to your school, not just in one corner of the building. Tell me about the learning devices / technology that helps students in the classroom. Also, is it okay to be conflicted about all this technology? Screen addiction is a real thing. Is it a good idea to have screens 24/7?
MS – Between my first and second year as principal, we were able to expand our 1:1 device program to include all students in K-8. Previously, only grades 5-8 had devices. K and 1st have tablets while Grades 2-8 have Chromebooks. We also updated Smartboards in multiple classrooms thanks to last year’s Day of Giving fundraiser in February 2021. We have robot kits and 3D printers and are looking forward to having a dedicated space for them.
While we are increasing our amount of technology resources as well as our own capacity to use it effectively and intentionally, we also recognize that screen time around the clock is not necessary–or even beneficial. For students, for anyone.
Right now, the average student today equates technology with entertainment, socializing with friends. At Maria Regina, we go in the opposite direction. Technology is not about consuming, but producing. It’s about creating and therefore, learning. If we model this virtue early in their lives, we hope students will carry it with them for a lifetime.
EG – Well Said. Principal Matt, thank you for your time. Can I come by this fall and look at the Makerspace?
MS – Absolutely! I might even be able to get you a cameo appearance in the broadcast. ◾️
You can find our broadcast episodes on YouTube Channel. Follow them on Instagram.
Learn more about Maria Regina School in Seaford, NY.