Program Chair, Early Childhood Education, Springfield Technical Community College: Age 39
Aimee Dalenta has dedicated her life’s work to enriching people through education.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Springfield College and a master’s from Western New England University, Dalenta taught fifth grade in Longmeadow. After marriage and having her first two children close together, she left the workforce for a short time. Her first re-entry was running a small childcare center in East Longmeadow. Shortly after that, Springfield College offered Dalenta an instructor’s position in its Education Department.
“So I went from working with little kids to big kids,” she said.
In her current role at Springfield Technical Community College, Dalenta’s students range from those just out of high school to older adults seeking a career change. “Students in the course can be in their 50s and 60s, and they will collaborate with a 21-year old,” she noted. “They learn from each other, and I’m learning from them. It’s a cool environment.”
Dalenta ranks her proudest professional moments as earning her doctorate and how well she has navigated through the starts and stops along the way.
“I will never regret leaving the workforce to become a mom, but it was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made,” she said. “Then, re-entering and navigating my way after not working for five years was terrifying.”
While she enjoyed her time at Springfield College as an instructor, she knew she would need a doctorate to remain in higher education. She enrolled at American International College for its doctoral program even though her youngest child was a toddler.
“It was four grueling years to earn the doctorate, but it was a labor of love,” she said, adding that she is grateful for all the support her family gave her.
She also found inspiration from Pat Summit, the late, legendary women’s basketball coach for the University of Tennessee, who coached her players: “left foot, right foot, breathe, repeat.”
“It’s a simple mantra that helped me get through my doctoral work,” Dalenta said. “I only need to do the thing in front of me. I still use it to center myself when things get difficult.”
While proud of her role as program chair and professor, Dalenta still considers herself a teacher. “I’m inspired by my students as they persevere through life’s challenges. Teaching has always been there to ground me and help me to grow as a professional and as a person.”