When Tierney Marzigliano, a Dental Assisting teacher at the Bixhorn Technical Center, was young, she had a few certainties in her life: That she was going to be a dentist, and she wanted to go to BOCES.
“I actually knew I wanted to go to BOCES,” she said. “My brother and sister went to BOCES for automotive and culinary. They loved it, so I knew that I wanted to go BOCES so I came for the Dental Program.”
While most children are afraid of the dentist, Tierney always enjoyed it. “I always had good experiences there,” she said. “I had a great dentist, and that made me want to either be a dentist or go into healthcare.”
When Tierney walked into the Chairside Dental Assisting Program as a high school student, she had a bold vision of her career. However, her teacher, Carol Donohue, helped focus her ambition. “I walked into this classroom without knowing the difference between a dental assistant, a hygienist, and a dentist,” she said. “I came in saying I wanted to be a dentist. Through this class, I learned the difference and found my path.”
Donohue’s path from ESBOCES student, to dental hygienist, and eventually ESBOCES teacher, inspired Tierney’s own career. “She made herself available to me throughout my college years; she has been a lifelong teacher to me.”
After graduating high school, Tierney attended Suffolk County Community College to satisfy the prerequisites needed to get an associate degree in dental hygiene from Briarcliffe College in Patchogue. Wanting to further her career, she began pursuing a Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene at SUNY Farmingdale while working full time in the field.
While she attended school, Tierney started considering the idea of one day teaching Chairside Dental Assisting. She completed an education capstone project with their bachelor’s degree, where she taught in the dental clinic at SUNY Farmingdale. She also signed up to be a substitute teacher at ESBOCES, where she was teaching in the same classroom that her career started in.
Tierney only worked as a substitute teacher for one year before she was hired as a teacher in the Chairside Dental Assisting Program. “It was a whirlwind,” she said.
One of the most important characteristics that Tierney brings to her classroom is being humble. “I have a whole board of questions the students ask me that I don’t know the answer to,” she said. “Then, we look up the answer together- so they’re literally teaching me something new every day. “
Donohue always had faith that this was the perfect fit for Tierney. “When Tierney was in my class, I thought she would be a great educator,” she said. “She has a very calm demeanor, and I often relied on her to help me with the students who were struggling – sometimes a student can learn more readily from a peer.”
Tierney is a lifelong learner, and always looking to better herself. She is pursuing a Masters in Health Career Education while teaching, and working at two dental offices. The program is offered online from SUNY Oswego, enabling Tierney to continue learning wherever she goes, whether it’s in the office, in the classroom, or at home.