An Interview With Regina Calcaterra

An Interview With Regina Calcaterra

Dominic Colavito, Staff Writer

Regina Calcaterra is a New York Times bestselling author who grew up in Lindenhurst and other places on Long Island.  She is the author of Etched in Sand, A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island and also the co-author of Etched in Sand’s sequel which she wrote with her younger sister Rosie Maloney, Girl Unbroken.  On Wednesday, December 2nd 2020, she spoke to the Lindenhurst High School Faculty about her background and the power they have has educators.

Calcaterra faced a rough childhood. Her mother who had five children from all different fathers, was a drug addict and mentally unstable. Although she and her family were often hungry and homeless, her favorite place to go during her childhood was the library. She loved to read about historical figures. Regina was always motivated by the theme of overcoming obstacles.

Calcaterra stated that in elementary school, teachers were her saviors.  As a young child, her favorite day of the year is when her mother would register them for school because she knew that she would get an education, get food and be in a safe place.  She truly feels teachers have the power to help kids believe in themselves. Teachers often said to her that the only way out of poverty and her poor living conditions was through an education. 

When asked how teachers impacted her lives Calcaterra said, “Teachers knew how to build up my self-esteem by telling me I’m smart, telling me I’m talented, telling me I’m a good student.” Since she grew up in a home with trauma, she was never praised by anyone. Many teachers might not realize the impact they have on the children they teach.  One kind word from a teacher may be all it takes to change the day or the life of a child.

Although the entire interview was completely inspiring, she gave some specific advice for reaching students on a daily basis.  Calcaterra suggested that kids should set small goals for themselves. Instead of looking at things through a long term perspective, try focusing on the short term goals.  Regina said, “Get through one week first and don’t think about getting through the year.”  This can be helpful advice for today’s students who are dealing with the challenges of learning remotely. It reminds students that if they fall behind, they should just pick up again and get going.  

Regina Calcaterra writes books about her life and her childhood. For her, it is easier to write about herself rather than a fictional character. Calcaterra said, “You have all the material you need at your fingertips.” She has all of the information for the character because she experienced it. Regina doesn’t need to come up with a backstory for the character because she uses her own past experiences.  Even if she forgets something, she can call up one of her siblings and ask them what happened. Even though she always loved books and writing them, her favorite subject in school was math. When she was at the grocery store when she was a kid, Regina used to add all of the items up in her head, so she knew what the total was going to be before they got to the register.

Regina is co-founding partner of Calcaterra Pollack LLP a 100% woman owned law firm which received recognition from the National Law Journal and won the 2020 Trailblazer Award.  Her story of strength and resilience is an inspiration to all and reminds us that we are responsible for shaping our own destinies.