Leadership in Museum Education '14
Even though I’m not working in a classroom anymore, I do feel like there’s a lot of connection between what I do now and the educational background that I got from Bank Street.
Educator Andrew Coletti has forged his own path. After he earned an undergraduate degree in classical, ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern studies and archaeology from Bard College, he came to Bank Street, for a master’s degree in leadership in museum education.
At Bank Street, his career as a teacher and educational leader began to take shape as he combined his background in history and his love for the culture of food with newly gained teaching ideas.
Andrew said, “When I was at Bank Street, it was my first time studying child development and really understanding how students learn. I had to make history engaging and learn how to get people excited about it, and I could do that through experiential learning, which is the process of learning by doing, I could make history come to life through food.”
After graduating from Bank Street, Andrew went to work at the Brooklyn Historical Society, where he gave exhibition tours on New York City history to K-12 school groups. He also led an afterschool program for fourth-grade students that combined historical research with experiential learning. He then found a job as an educator and special projects developer at the Salvadori Center, a non-profit organization that provides push-in STEAM programs for schools and afterschool programs, where he taught K-12 students and developed architecture and engineering curricula, including two science activity kits. Notably, he also wrote, filmed, and edited 22 educational videos that aired on PBS (WNET) in 2020-2021 and trained colleagues in video production.
Over time, Andrew’s historical interest in ancient food habits grew, and he knew he wanted to teach people about global food cultures in a way that connected the history of civilizations to the cultural significance of what people eat today.
Currently, Andrew is researching and writing stories about the history and culture of food as an editorial fellow for Gastro Obscura on the travel website, Atlas Obscura. One of his self-produced videos on how to make a Nigerian draw soup called ogbono earned Andrew over one-million views on TikTok, where he has over 200,000 followers.
With the success of his ogbono video, Andrew had found his niche as an educator.
“I feel like international cuisines like West African foods don’t get enough attention outside of their immediate communities. That’s why I focused on the ogbono,” Andrew said. “It has a gooey texture that can be very polarizing and people can find it unappealing. In my video, I answered the question of why it has that texture—it’s because of polysaccharides, the same chemical that makes starch gooey. I wanted to demystify it by talking about the science behind the texture. That video went viral in Nigeria, and people were fascinated with how I explained a simple soup using the language of science.”
While Andrew’s interests have moved him out of the physical classroom, he still considers himself to be an educator.
“Even though I’m not working in a classroom anymore, I do feel like there’s a lot of connection between what I do now and the educational background that I got from Bank Street. The type of writing I’m doing now is shaped by and connected to my background as an educator. I don’t really feel like I stepped away from teaching, it’s just a different format of sharing knowledge and information. I always knew the things that excited me the most about learning happened outside of a traditional classroom. But learning how to bring that experience inside of the classroom has been a valuable stepping stone.”
Watch Andrew’s Video about how to make Nigerian draw soup here