Interview with Mr. Moniaci
By Cody Sung
Image provided by Discovery.Inc
I was fortunate to be able to interview Mr. Moniaci virtually through Teams. He graduated from Binghamton University in 1996. His first teaching experience came from one of his close friend’s mom, who was one of the secretaries at Berner Junior High School in Massapequa, where he was a substitute teacher. With that, he also got an opportunity to be the drama director there. “I kind of enjoyed running the drama club,” he stated, and realized that he wanted to be a teacher, going back to school to get his master’s degree in secondary education from Columbia University, graduating in 1998.
He did his student teaching at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan; he started his formal teaching career at North High School in September of 1998. He has run the Drama Club here for almost as long as he has been a teacher, saying “I always wanted to do both [teaching history and being involved in the performing arts], and I was happy to have the opportunity at North all these years.” In his 25 years here, he recalls how the school has had more and more students, from around 800 to 1400, and how the hallways used to be less crowded.
I inquired to Mr. Moniaci about whether his dual passion for history and acting led him to be the host of What History Forgot, a TV show about forgotten American history. He remembers he got the job from a former Binghamton student who had to do an internship at a production company, Atlas. As part of the internship, he had to pitch a show to the CEO and emailed Mr. Moniaci about a possible history show. In his reply, Mr. Moniaci gave him ideas for what to talk about. “And then, totally kidding around, I wrote at the end, ‘and I get to be the host.’” At the meeting, the CEO liked the forgotten history idea, and the following day, Mr. Moniaci found out he was pitched to be the host. He did a test run of it, and American Heroes Channel picked it up. When the show got released, he said, “the fact that I had a TV show in the first place was pretty crazy.”
How did North find out about this? The first year it came out, in 2015, he told his students he was doing a show. “The way I was doing it … I didn’t miss any days at North … I would film on the weekends,” he stated. For one episode during season 2, he took the luggage from North, went to JFK Airport, and flew to California to film. He recalled that his students knew it was coming out. When it did, he entered a classroom, and the students gave him a standing ovation, “which was really sweet. It was really funny.” However, he says the funniest stories came from when his students didn’t know about the show. They would go to him, shocked to see Mr. Moniaci on TV.
After what he noted was a unique experience, Mr. Moniaci returned to his usual schedule. Now, he teaches AP United States History, African American History, a sociology elective, and US History and Government. He says he is extremely passionate about teaching history and enjoys being a teacher at North, and he wants to return to doing so as soon as possible. Mr. Moniaci is very inspirational, and we all have something to learn from him. We are all very lucky at North to have Mr. Moniaci as a social studies teacher.