Charleroi woman transitions from teacher to chef
Most people consider themselves lucky to find their calling in life – one career they truly love and excel in doing.
For Charleroi native Judy Cioccio, it seems her life's work was destined to send her in two directions.
Born and raised in Charleroi, Cioccio graduated from Charleroi High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from California University of Pennsylvania.
Cioccio began her teaching career in 1974 at St. Michael's School in Elizabeth, teaching third grade.
She then moved on to teach at the former St. Jerome School in Charleroi.
“I taught religion as well as other subjects to the sixth- through eighth-graders,” Cioccio recalled.
In 1982, she began teaching at Transfiguration Catholic School in Monongahela (now Madonna Catholic Regional School). She taught there until her semi-retirement from teaching in 2011. She also worked at Madonna's middle school in Donora for a period of time.
During her years at Madonna Catholic, Judy taught many subjects and grade levels. To her beloved students, Cioccio was the preschool and pre-kindergarten teacher, as well as the music teacher during her last six years at the school.
Throughout her years as the school's music teacher, Cioccio directed the Christmas programs, which included singing, readings, and a multitude of characters and costumes. Always the proud teacher, Cioccio credited her students for all their hard work on the programs.
Still working part-time at Madonna Catholic as a substitute teacher, Cioccio has now found more time to invest in another love – cooking.
Born Judith Biagini, to her Italian-American mother, Rose, and Italian and French-Belgium father, Norman, Cioccio grew up next to her mother and grandmother in the kitchen. It was that same kitchen of her grandmother's house in which Cioccio still cooks for family today, since purchasing her childhood home about six years ago.
She loves cooking at home for family, which includes her husband Daniel and her mother who resides with them, as well as the Cioccios' two sons Ryan and Chris when they visit along with their families. Cioccio's father passed away in 1977, and her only sibling, Robert, passed away in March.
“When my grandmother was alive, we used to prepare a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner, including wedding soup and the Feast of the Seven Fishes,” Cioccio explained. “However, the next generation's tastes tend to be for spaghetti or turkey on holidays.”
Although she loves cooking for family, which now includes four grandchildren, Cioccio spends most of her time cooking for people throughout the Valley as she has been working for the past three years at Ponce's Place in Monongahela.
“I actually taught the owners' son at Madonna Catholic Middle School,” Cioccio said.
She helps cook the food and helps with the catering events such as weddings, parties, funerals, baptisms, and other events.
Cioccio's kitchen resume includes having worked for Costa's Catering in Donora in the summers and on weekends while teaching. Before that, it was the restaurant in G.C. Murphy in Charleroi that gave Cioccio her start in the kitchen.
“I was the first waitress hired at the restaurant,” she said. “It was around 1967 or 1968. I would make hoagies.
“I put myself through college working there.”
Looking ahead to 2014, Cioccio expects to keep busy as usual, with working and spending time with family.
Her family will, of course, begin the new year with a delicious meal that includes a traditional pork dish and a quarter placed under each person's plate.
“It's for good luck,” she explained. “It's an Italian tradition passed down from my grandmother.”
In the summer, the Cioccios plan to visit their son, Ryan, his wife, and their granddaughter in Erie.
Cioccio and her husband are able to spend time with their son, Chris, and his wife and children more often since they live in Greensburg.
Food, family, and fun are on her agenda for 2014 – a recipe Cioccio believes adds up to happiness.
Miranda Startare is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ringgold students earn Westinghouse science honor
- Carroll woman accused of prescription drug scheme
- Many in Mon Valley made news as area prepared for past holidays
- No charges in Rostraver dog case
- River traffic resumes on Mon
- ‘Suspicious’ blaze in N. Belle Vernon puts cops on alert
- Charleroi students call on creativity at Camp Invention
- Donora man shot Sunday in Monessen
- Mon City man accused of stabbing girlfriend
- Charleroi man charged in pizza shop burglaries
- Monessen break-ins under investigation