After serving the AT community for 28 years, Italian teacher Giuditta Vitiritti has made plans to retire after the 2021-2022 school year.
Despite serving and educating the community during her tenure, Vitiritti did not always have plans to become an Italian teacher. Out of college, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Italian while minoring in art. “I worked at the Mercantile Exchange as a runner. I was also a translator for the Academy of Legal and Technical Translation. I loved that job. Then, I landed a job with Banca Commerciale Italiana,” she said. The bank was one of the largest banks in Italy at the time.
She continued, saying, “I worked for their Chicago location which has since closed. From there, I was like, ‘I really think I want to teach,’ so I went back to Loyola and got my Master’s Degree and type-75 and I started the program here. I was a little older because I had those jobs before but this is it.”
After living on a bell-schedule for the last 28 years of her life, Vitiritti mentioned how weird it’s going to be now that life will not be in 45 minute increments. “It’s very weird! I was talking to Mr. Maaske, who’s also retiring, and I said, ‘It’s going to be all normal until around August 15th, when I would come back for institute and I’m scurrying finishing home things and getting my one daughter back to school. August is very stressful. That’s when it’s going to be like, ‘Okay, what now’,” she said. She chuckled, adding, “However, I will not miss these bells because I think they are way too loud and it hurts my ears.”
Despite not missing the bells, Vitiritti mentions how she is “going to miss the kids the most.” She said how, “They truly keep you young with their lingo. I always say, the kids in language classes and all elective classes for that matter are just different caliber kids. They’re just a different breed because they chose to take it and you get a kid who wants to be there. I’m going to miss my kids for sure and my very close friends at work. I always say ‘my kids’ because they really are. The teachers are like extended family because you’re here for 8 hours. You need to build relations with teachers because they’re your go-to. You need anything. A dollar or a crying shoulder or anything, you have that. I’m going to miss that.”
In terms of plans for the future after retirement, Vitiritti has a very strong affinity for baking and crocheting, which she said she will be going into “full-throttle.” Travel is also at the top of her her list. “I’d like to go back to Italy and bring (my) mom again. It’s going to be great being able to travel not on the school’s schedule,” she said.
Over the years, Vitiritti has earned much deserved recognition for her hard work and dedication to teaching the language. During the 2014-2015 school year, she became an AP advocate. In November 2016, she became the first recipient of the Midwest Award for Leadership in the Teaching of the Italian Language and Culture. In 2017, she was featured in the “AP Advocates for Action.” Recently, she was named as a National Advocate Lead and was featured in the October 2021 issue of the “Fra Noi” magazine, Chicagoland’s Italian-American voice.
Despite the many accolades, Vitiritti still says her greatest accomplishment is that, “when I did the math, I have touched over 3,500 lives. It’s astounding to me that one person has touched all of those lives. Hopefully they touch other lives with some things I’ve said.”
Being the founding member of the Italian program at AT, Vitiritti has taught all levels of the language. While all levels hold a special place in her heart, she admits, “I really enjoy Italian 1 because they’re like little sponges and they just repeat everything like little birdies. I also absolutely love AP because you can see where they really were. Even if they took it in junior high, they’re still coming into Italian 2, which is low-level. To see them grow is amazing. I love that. I love AP.”
After being the only teacher who taught AP Italian at AT for the last 12 years, the course will be taught by trusted friend, co-worker, and former student Enza Spilotro.
“She was my teacher freshman year. I was the new girl at Addison and coming from the city, coming from a private school, I had naturally thought I was gonna go to Driscoll. I ended up coming here and I have to say, a lot of it had to do with her. I walked down the hallway and I heard this loud Italian voice saying, ‘Dov’è dizionario? (Where is your dictionary?)’ As soon as I heard her voice, I was like, ‘Okay, I need to come here.’ That’s how it all started.”
Spilotro continued, accrediting her becoming a teacher at AT to Vitiritti. “I remembered even in high school thinking, ‘Okay, I’m probably going to be a teacher.’ Fast forward to my student teaching years at Dominican University, I went to a job fair at College of DuPage and I saw Ms. V again. They were taking applicants and I was given the honor to teach Italian with Ms. V. Ever since, we’ve been colleagues. I keep telling her now as the days keep winding down that I want to make sure the program continues to flourish. I hope she knows how much I love her and how proud I am to work side by side with her over these years. It’s definitely not going to be the same with her gone.”