Spartans Speak: Ten OA teachers spill the tea on teaching

Sonia Wasserman, Reporter

In the world of high school education, the perspectives of teachers can easily fade into the backdrop of its typical student-focused environment. But this week on the Spartan Oracle, some of OA’s very own teachers are brought to light as they express the reasons behind why they teach and what is most valuable about their class. 


  1. Photography, video production and yearbook teacher, James McManus says, “I really enjoy working with kids and watching them learn the subject matter I’m trying to teach.”


Mcmanus furthers, “The most valuable things you can learn in classrooms are those things you can take with you and apply in everyday life. All the stuff you learn with math and reading and all those sorts of things are sort of the groundwork, but it’s  life lessons that you learn in school and in life that you should take with you in any kind of context.”


  1. Math teacher, Josh Mason answers, “Geometry, the study of shapes, is pretty cool, but we’re really getting at critical thinking and problem solving, and the ability to think; that translates to all facets of life.”


On why he teaches, Mason explained, “I teach so that I can have an impact on the next generation. I teach because of the kids I get to work with.”


  1. Bridgette DePalma-Steed, states, “I teach because I like kids and I want them to learn how to keep themselves healthy.”


She also says, “The most important thing to learn in my class are ways that someone can exercise without having to go to the gym. I want my students to learn what they can use in their surroundings to get fit without having to pay for a gym membership.”


  1. Art and success teacher, Dona Kintzi passionately replies with, “It’s easy to tell you why I teach – I LOVE IT! I love being connected with people’s lives; I love youth; I love what my students teach me about myself; I love what they teach me about their generation and how my generation is different. I love that I learned so much about the world through the eyes of my students.”


She continues,“The most valuable thing to take from my class is learning how to learn – and to figure out how you remember things, how you recall information, what helps to process the information. Do you need to move a body part to make it a kinesthetic process, do you need to write it; do you need to make a picture about it? It’s about finding how you learn so that when you’re asked about that information, you can sound intelligent, and bring that education back out of your head, and onto paper, or into a discussion in order to communicate what you’ve learned.”


  1. Science teacher, Kristin Bornhoft comments,“I think the most valuable thing to learn is how science is truly amazing, especially if you had a negative view of it in a prior class. I also hope students learn that scientific discoveries never end and we’re making new discoveries all of the time!”


Bornhoft also reveals, “I teach because I love my subject and want others to be inspired. I was inspired by my 7th-grade science teacher (Mr. Blackie). Plus, I truly enjoy teaching high schoolers!”


  1. Math teacher, John Dell’Armo believes the most valuable thing to take away from his class is “how to be responsible for individual learning and studying, as well as pattern recognition for complex problems in math/physics.”          


He adds, “I love learning and working with students to give them a better understanding of math and physics. Teaching also gives me a flexible schedule to be with my family over the winter and summer breaks.”  


  1. History teacher, Addison Sage, thinks teaching is fun and social studies are important. Though, he says the class can often be neglected, so he wants to make sure students are learning the right things.  


With his students, Sage wants to enforce “How to be a good member of democracy and how to be a good voter,” he continues, “ It’s about voting with your conscience, without people manipulating you and being able to see through all the- you know- nonsense, and to get into the real stuff that you see out there about politics and world events and history.” 


  1. English and creative writing teacher, Scott Gelotti says the most valuable thing to take away from the class is something “students should be able to answer for themselves because it doesn’t matter what I think is important, it matters what students take away.”


On why he teaches, Gelotti explains, “I really like stories; I really like literature, and I went to school and I studied that, and then when I graduated from college I was like, ‘Oh. What am I  going to do?’ I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll teach for a while while I figure it out,’ and that was twenty years ago. I started teaching and I really liked it and then I just never moved on. I just stayed here.”


  1. The athletic director, Chad McKenzie, reflects on his journey. “From an early age, I started getting into coaching. I didn’t know if I wanted to get into the medical field or teaching, but I had so much fun coaching, and being hands-on with kids and watching the growth of the kids, that I decided I wanted to be a teacher rather than getting into the medical field. Now, as the athletic director, I love being able to have a positive impact on young kids’ lives.”


He wants his students to learn “how to make their lives better in one way or the other – physically, mentally, and emotionally” McKenzie notes, “For everyone it’s different – some people struggle with the mental part, or the social part, or being more physical, or their self-esteem, or peer pressure – whatever it is, everyone has a thing where they need these lessons because it’s just going to benefit them in the future.”


  1. World history teacher, Joel Mason responds, “I think it’s the hope of a lot of teachers that their classes become more than just about the content they teach. The content is great and if you can understand a bigger perspective of the world and the little part that you play in this huge web, then that’s cool, but, more important than that, is learning those skills to become successful, contributing people in our society. ”


Mason expands on why he teaches, “For me, I wasn’t drawn because I have a passion for history. Ultimately, why I teach is because I enjoy the relational aspect of the job. With students, with fellow teachers – it’s a people business. Being able to interact with others and make an impact on them, and being able to see those people grow and come back to see how I was a small part of their development is cool.”


The Oracle sends a special thanks to the teachers at OA who make learning worthwhile! We couldn’t do it without you.