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Teacher Feature: The Details on Deborah DeBetta

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Teacher Feature: The Details on Deborah DeBetta

DeBetta loves going to the beach, especially on trips to Montauk with her family

DeBetta loves going to the beach, especially on trips to Montauk with her family

Deborah DeBetta

DeBetta loves going to the beach, especially on trips to Montauk with her family

Deborah DeBetta

Deborah DeBetta

DeBetta loves going to the beach, especially on trips to Montauk with her family

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Health and Physical Education Teacher Deborah DeBetta is known throughout LHS for her knowledge and passion about the human body, mind, and soul. DeBetta was born in Levittown and attended MacArthur High School and Sacred Heart Academy. DeBetta then attended Marist College, where she earned a triple major of psychology, special education, and elementary education. With such an extensive workload, DeBetta was not involved with any clubs in college. Instead, she spent her time exploring the Hudson Valley, visiting her friends at the Culinary Institute of America, as well as other things. “Any free time I had I used to hike the Hudson Valley. I love foods, so I used to go see my friends at the Culinary Institute of America, and we would hang out, spend time in Rhinebeck, go food shopping at local farms, and go hiking at Mohonk Mountain,” she says.

Years later, DeBetta attended Adelphi University, where she studied health and physical education and earned a master’s degree. There, she volunteered for the Women’s Sports Foundation, supporting females in sports. “They would have benefits and galas, and I would work them. It was really cool. I actually met a lot of celebrities like Geena Davis and Billy Jean King,” DeBetta explains. DeBetta is pleased with her work at the foundation and her ability to help others. DeBetta continues, “When I was growing up, I was unsure about being a woman in sports because of stereotypes, so when I got into college, I always knew I wanted to support girls in the fitness and sports arena and not have them question it. Because when I was growing up, my dad used to say sports are for boys, not for girls. I never had role models of females in sports, so I wanted to help support young girls in their discovery of sports, fitness, and athletics.”

DeBetta always had a love for teaching ever since she can remember. “I always loved kids since I was a kid myself. I always played ‘school’ during playtime,” states DeBetta. DeBetta has been teaching for a total of 21 years. She first worked in the Rockville Centre School District as a teaching assistant. Then, she moved to the East Williston School District, where she once again worked as a teaching assistant. Later, she worked in the Wantagh School District as a classroom teacher. “I taught middle school, and there was something missing,” DeBetta admits. As it would turn out, that something would be physical education. “My students used to be so excited when the physical education teacher would come pick them up and take them to physical education class from my classroom, yet they were miserable doing reading and writing. Their strength laid in bodily kinesthetic movement. And I’ve always been bodily kinesthetic and athletic as a kid, so I too had the love for the body and for the mind,” says DeBetta.

Before this revelation, DeBetta left teaching for good, or so she thought. DeBetta always disliked paperwork, so she moved on to working towards being a flight attendant. However, after 9/11, all of the airline regulations had to be changed, so DeBetta’s training got cut short. She then worked in the restaurant business as a bartender for 10 years. It was then that she realized she wanted to become a physical education and health teacher. She shares,“I actually missed the students, and I wanted to go back to teaching. But I wanted to do something I was truly passionate about.” DeBetta was also a fitness trainer, so health and physical education were already close to her heart.

After graduating from Adelphi, DeBetta started working at the Kindergarten Center. She also taught at North Middle School, South Middle School, and, of course, LHS. Interestingly enough, in 2012, DeBetta started her high school career just as her old kindergarten students were entering high school. “We moved up together, through kindergarten, middle school, and high school. I got to see the full growth of the children through the years. I’ve been so lucky and fortunate. Not many teachers get to see the full cycle of the educational process,” DeBetta explains happily. For her, teaching physical education and health is second nature because it is what she believes in and loves.

At LHS, DeBetta teaches health, physical education, and mindfulness. Mindfulness has been taught for the past four years, and the class is one of DeBetta’s personal favorites. She elaborates, saying, “I always knew I’m not a sports fan. I’m more of a fitness, wellness, movement, mind, and body person. For me, it’s more being healthy. That’s what’s most important.” Students enjoy mindfulness, too. Senior Dylan Clarke recalls having DeBetta teach him mindfulness and meditation in health sophomore year. “I remember her starting each day with mindfulness and meditation. It made me relax,” he says.

Regarding teaching, DeBetta loves connecting with students most of all. “I love sharing all the useful knowledge that has helped me in my own life, and I love hearing stories from my students about any lesson that may have helped them in their own life,” she says. According to DeBetta, it is important to share life stories with one another to better understand each other’s thinking and actions. “It’s important to share our humanity together,” DeBetta emphasizes.

DeBetta is very appreciative that she is able to teach a subject so close to her heart. And, of course, one that doesn’t require paperwork or such a restrictive curriculum. “I’m so lucky that I don’t have tests or curriculum. Life is my curriculum. I feel so blessed to be able to teach about life. I always say health is the most important subject because you’re given this body from life to death; to take care of it is the most important job we have,” shares DeBetta.

In the future, DeBetta hopes that health will be viewed as more important than it is now. “As a health educator, my dream is to see health be acknowledged as a major subject area because it is the most important subject. If your body isn’t regulated, then you don’t feel good. Your ability to focus, memorize, and recall is not going to be the most efficient,” she stresses. DeBetta’s goal is for people to see the importance of establishing the foundation of a healthy person before focusing on other subjects. According to DeBetta, once a person is healthy and understands what healthy means, learning will be more authentic, organic, and easier.

Outside of school, DeBetta enjoys several activities. Most of all, she loves spending time with friends and family. “I have four nieces and nephews whom I adore more than anything. I have my dog, Pepe, who is my best friend and a part of my family,” adds DeBetta. DeBetta also has a passion for cooking, gardening, entertaining, going out to eat, spending time at the beach, going to concerts, and just enjoying life. DeBetta also participates in retreats and mindfulness activities, too. “I try to go twice a year on silent retreats. I unplug from books, from phones, from technology, from even talking. You learn about yourself. I think Socrates said it best: ‘Know thyself,’” she says. DeBetta also enjoys yoga, working out, and, of course, meditation.

DeBetta works hard to be the best person she can be. She states, “When I go for silent meditation retreats, I don’t just go for myself. I go so I can show up as a better teacher, a better daughter, a better aunt, a better friend. I do it to better myself and whoever may be involved in my life.”

DeBetta is proud of many things in her life. She is proud of the relationships she has developed with her students. She explains that there are a number of students in and out of college who contact her and talk to her about stress and anxiety they are experiencing. “It makes me happy that they still reach out and took something from what I taught them,” DeBetta explains, elated. “It feels good to hear that what I’m learning is really being appreciated by other people,” she adds. Of course, she is proud of her nieces and nephews, too. She is also proud of the space she creates for others. Her hope is that everyone feels comfortable being him or herself in front of her.

Many people—both students and teachers alike—have come to admire and appreciate DeBetta and her passion for health. “I love everything about Ms. DeBetta. There’re so many things I admire about Ms. DeBetta. One of the things that I can always rely on is that she is always gonna make me laugh, and I can always be myself around her, and I think that she allows everybody to do that,” says Jennifer Kramer, a fellow health and physical education teacher. Danny Neri, a senior in DeBetta’s Mindfulness class, says, “I admire how passionate Ms. DeBetta is in what she does. She loves teaching people about mindfulness and showing them just how much it’s able to impact one’s life.

 

Bernard Pivot

  • What are your favorite words? Love, ease, peace
  • What are your least favorite words? Hate, can’t, no
  • What turns you off? Hatred, closed mindedness, judgmental attitudes
  • What sound do you love? Silence, the sound my dog makes when he is having a dream
  • What sound do you hate? My alarm clock
  • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Flight attendant
  • What profession would you not like to do? Anything that involves excessive paperwork, like accounting
  • If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates? “Bravo, well done, thank you for your services…Now it’s time to party!”

Favorites

  • Movie: Shawshank Redemption
  • Book: Gone with the Wind and The Way of Zen
  • TV show: Top Chef
  • Food: Fish tacos and pizza
  • Actor: George Clooney
  • Actress: Gillian Jacobs
  • Song: Too many!
  • Sports team: Yankees, a family favorite
  • Band/musician: Thievery Corporation, Cold Play, Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, and Bob Marley
  • Pastime/hobby: Going on retreats, traveling, beach bumming, cooking
  • Snack: Hard boiled eggs or guacamole
  • Play: The Lion King
  • Color: Pink

Deborah DeBetta
DeBetta and her dog, Pepe

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Teacher Feature: The Details on Deborah DeBetta