15:10 PM

UHCL student achieves dream to become educator, 'Ms. Fairy' to her students

All her life, Isabella Farinacci knew she wanted to be a teacher. There was never any question in her mind. She spent her childhood “teaching” her stuffed animals and toys. “It’s just something that’s in me,” she said. “I come from a line of teachers. There was never any doubt what I wanted to be when I grew up.”

On May 13, Farinacci received her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with Core Subjects EC-6 and ESL Supplemental from University of Houston-Clear Lake. “I’m really glad this is where I got my degree,” she said. “I grew up in Pearland and I did not want to go to college far away from home. I met someone who was majoring in education at UH-Clear Lake and she said her experience was rigorous, but very satisfying. That had a lot of influence on my decision.”

She said she’d had many courses with (Assistant Professor of Studies in Language and Culture) Leslie Gauna, who inspired her and kept her going. “Dr. Gauna molded me into who I am now as a teacher, and she taught me what I want to carry into the classroom in terms of diversity and multiculturalism,” she said. “She was my most impactful professor.”

She said each of her professors were willing to go the extra mile. “I had the feeling that in college, my professors wouldn’t care so much about me,” she said. “But every step of the way, even through COVID, my professors were reassuring and supportive and told me to keep on pushing.”

Receiving a teaching internship in Pearland Independent School District  was important to her. “It meant a lot to me to intern in my home district, because I gained so much there,” she explained. “It’s so important to me to give back to my community. I would not be here without the teachers I had growing up. And now, I’m going to be starting my teaching career here.”

Before her internship at E.A. Lawhon Elementary, she thought she might want to teach kindergarten. She was a little worried that her students might have difficulty with her name.

“At the time, I thought ‘Farinacci’ might be a struggle for little kids, so I allowed them to call me Ms. Fairy,” she said. “I had an idea to create a library in my classroom with a magical forest theme. Then I got matched to a third-grade teacher for my internship and I didn’t think the older kids would want to call me Ms. Fairy, but they did. So, now I’m Ms. Fairy.”

She said she would be getting married in September, but for school, she would remain Ms. Fairy. “My fiancé says he doesn’t mind being called ‘Mr. Fairy,’” she joked.

In the fall, she will begin her first year teaching third grade at H.C. Carleston Elementary in Pearland I.S.D. “I have woven the ‘Ms. Fairy’ theme into my future classroom,” she said. “In my mind, I’m envisioning a reading corner with a tree and butterflies. I have a giant wooden ‘F’ with stained glass that a parent painted for me, with a fairy. It’s beautiful.”

Farinacci said she was taking much more than fairies and butterflies into her new classroom. “The most important thing I learned from my time at UHCL is that I need to have good relationships with my students,” she said. “Without that, it doesn’t matter how great the lessons are. Students need to know they are cared for and respected. I learned from my professors that students need to feel valued. Any good instruction will begin with building good relationships.”

She said that although she has graduated, her time at UHCL is not complete. “I’m counting down until I go back for my  master’s degree,” she said.

For more information about undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs available in  UHCL's College of Education, visit www.uhcl.edu/education/.