Ms. Ciotti’s Historical Teaching Years

27 years are not enough for this veteran English teacher to leave her favorite school


Maria Bagumian, Staff Writer

Ms. Holly Ciotti started her career in education at the Glendale Unified School District in 1985, and she began by teaching at Roosevelt Middle School for ten years. Prior to this, she earned her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, where she also took some courses in teaching. She then went to graduate school at Ohio State University, where she got a PhD (Academic/Professional Research Degree) in Linguistics.

In 1970, Ms. Ciotti came to California, because she was doing some research, but she ultimately decided to stay here and teach. In 1994, the 4000 building was being built on the campus at GHS, in preparation for ninth graders joining our student body. Before then, GHS was known as a senior high school, and Wilson and Roosevelt were known as junior high schools. These two sites taught grades seventh, eighth and ninth.

When GHS finally opened its doors to freshmen, they needed a lot of teachers, and that’s why Ms. Ciotti decided to join our staff. She has been teaching at GHS since 1995, which was the year that Coach Tadeh Mardirosian was a freshman at our school

In Ms. Ciotti’s opinion, not a lot of things have changed during the years that she has been here. “Kids are kids, but a lot of things have changed in the world,” she said. “Covid certainly is one of them, and immigration had a major effect on us.” Ms. Ciotti said that nowadays, there are about 2,000 students at GHS, but when she first began teaching, there were about 3,500 students on our campus. 

The immigration in Glendale during the late 1900s and the early 2000s were enormous, and perhaps most of it was driven by the major earthquake in Armenia. “Teaching students who didn’t know English was a focus, because there were so many kids that didn’t know English,” Ms. Ciotti said. “And so during some of those years, the ELD [English Language Development] department was the biggest department on the campus.”

Currently, there are only three ELD teachers at GHS, but 20 years ago there were about twenty teachers teaching students who were not fluent in English. A lot of students now work hard to be out of ELD class, because it gives you a chance to select an elective class.  

Technology is another main difference on our campus. Back in the 1990’s, certainly nobody had cell phones, and they were never a problem for students during class time. In those days, if a parent needed to contact their child, they would call the office, and the office would connect them with their child by contacting the teacher. Now, almost all the students have their own cell phones and contacting the office has become rare. 

Technology is a major distractor in a way that it never was long ago. Also, now that we’re back to school, after a long time of being on Zoom, Ms. Ciotti has been making copies of handouts to give to students, because she thinks that they are learning better in that way, instead of using technology. 

Ms. Ciotti also mentioned that in years past, she could require more from students because now we sometimes hear the words, “Don’t give kids any homework.” But she never heard those words when she started teaching. 

There are some students who really don’t have the opportunity of practicing their skills at home, but other kids just don’t like to do work. In Ms. Ciotti’s opinion, there is silly homework, which is busy work, but meaningful homework is worthwhile. This is a great way to practice and spend your time on something helpful and constructive.

When asked if she would consider moving to another school, Ms. Ciotti said no. “I kinda live here,” she confirmed. “Besides, I like the community, and the parents of our students are appreciative, and they respect the school.” 

Ms. Ciotti said that, years ago, more Nitro students attended a university directly out of high school. Yet she feels that this has changed at our school, but it’s a financial decision made by families. The experience of going to college is good, but when there are financial problems, you have to respect that. Not all the students have the chance to attend a community college, but if you are lucky enough and have the opportunity, you should definitely continue your education after high school. 

Overall, Ms. Ciotti would recommend that students take Advanced Placement classes, and now there are more students willing to work hard, instead of just being known as the smart kids. AP classes are available for every student, through the recommendation of the counselors, because they know best what their students will need.

“What you’ll put into college will determine what you get out of it,” Ms. Ciotti said.