When in doubt, Ms. Vinca will help you out

For some students, It’s hard to believe that teachers have a life beyond the classroom, but Albiona Vinca blows this stereotype out of the water. Outside of her small office in the special services wing, Vinca carries a large life on her petite shoulders. But it’s not her impressive bucket list of traveling the world and attending outdoor concerts that makes this new addition to West Essex interesting — rather, it’s her impressive ability to dedicate herself to helping others. 

One conversation leaves you wanting to know more about the Macedonian born and Jersey raised girl who seems to have countless stories hidden beneath the surface, and although she is only here temporarily until Michelle Gonzalez returns from maternity leave, we can’t wait to welcome her into the West Essex family.

Vinca is a special services counselor and school psychologist offering her help to make children in special education feel comfortable. 

“It generally makes me happy when I’m able to provide [these students] with a service that makes them feel just like any other kid,” Vinca said. “It’s great to give them opportunities they thought they couldn’t have.” 

Vinca’s role as a school psychologist allows her to help manage how students in special education spend their day. She dictates their classes, accommodations and recommendations, and whether or not students need an aide to assist them during the day or in a class. In addition, she offers counseling to her students and meets with their parents. 

Outside the West Essex walls, Vinca has accomplished more than most people can dream at only 30 years old. In fact, trips to Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Amsterdam are already crossed off her list, and she has big plans to pack up and explore what the rest of the world has to offer. 

“I would love to just travel,” Vinca said. “If I had another life to live, I would travel anywhere and everywhere.” 

Even on vacation, Vinca packs her empathetic spirit in order to fathom life from a different perspective and apply it to her work.

“I think [traveling has] helped me be able to relate to kids, no matter where they come from, what their background is, or culture is like,” she said. 

In addition, Vinca enjoys spending time with her 9-month-old son, Rowen, born on Christmas Eve 2018. As she mentions him, a twinkle sparks in her eye, fascinated by her son’s untainted understanding of life. 

“It’s great to see the world through a baby’s eyes because everything is brand new to them,” Vinca said. 

Vinca embodies the personality of her job perfectly; immediately welcoming, she creates a safe environment with her soothing tone and patient eyes that help students feel comfortable. She genuinely wants to make connections with her students and said she loves being a part of their success.

“Today, someone who came to talk to me [at] the end said, ‘I actually think I feel better,’” Vinca said. “If they can see that, that just makes me happy.”

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