Mr. Tessalone earns Governor’s Educator of the Year Award

Jan. 15, 2023

By Vielka Castillo
Staff Writer

Students know history teacher Mr. Tessalone as a dedicated educator, coach and club advisor. What they may not know is that he is the recipient of LHS’ 2022-2023 Governor’s Educator of the Year Award.

 Tessalone, who joined the high school’s faculty in 2009, teaches Advanced Placement U.S. History II, U.S. History I Honors and U.S. History II College Preparation. 

 He is a volunteer coach for the indoor and outdoor track and field teams as well as the cross country team. He also advises the Table Tennis Club, which he founded last year. 

Later this school year, Tessalone will be advising the Unified Ping Pong Program in which members of the Table Tennis Club will teach the students in the Unified Program how to play the game. 

“I’m honored to have received this award and so grateful for all the well-wishes from not only faculty members but students as well,” Tessalone said.

 He said his goals are to keep students interested in history and encourage the pursuit of knowledge.

 Tessalone, who earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Pennsylvania State University in State College, said he considers himself to be a lifelong learner. 

 “I like the idea of continuing education,” Tessalone said. “The idea of always learning is very powerful.”

“He’s very positive, and that helps make our department a fun place to work.”

While teaching full-time, he earned his master’s degree in history from Montclair State University and is now taking online classes at Montclair to earn a supervisor certificate.

 Inspired by his own teachers who encouraged his interest in history and influenced his passion for teaching, Tessalone said he always wanted to be a teacher.

Besides the opportunities for continuous learning, Tessalone said he enjoys the unpredictable nature of his profession.

“The nice thing about being a teacher is that you never know what’s going to happen. You have to be on your toes, and I like that,” Tessalone said. “I’m more of a spontaneous person than a planner.”  

 Tessalone said he is not done developing as an educator, explaining that becoming a parent changed his approach to his work.

 “I have a three- and a one-year-old,” Tessalone said. “[I am] always striving to be more patient and empathetic.”

 Math teacher Mr. Carucci, who has been working at LHS for 13 years and coached with Tessalone, said he is worthy of the prestigious award because he goes above and beyond what is required of an educator.

 “Most clubs meet once a month. He meets twice a week with his [Table Tennis] Club. He’s putting in all this extra time that he is not required to and is not necessarily being compensated for because it is what he sees as helping students,” Carucci said. 

He said Tessalone encourages those around him to look at the bright side and enjoy every moment. 

“He was my inspiration to get into running in the first place, and then he inspired me to run a marathon,” Carucci said. “His love of running was infectious.”

 History teacher Mr. Clifford said Tessalone is one of the best teachers at LHS.

 “I know how much time and effort he puts into creating dynamic lesson plans and preparing for assignments,” Clifford said.

 Clifford said he and Tessalone have shared a classroom, prepared lessons together and taught the same courses. 

 “His work ethic and his knowledge of history helps everyone within the department,” Clifford said. “He’s very positive, and that helps make our department a fun place to work.” 

 This year, sophomore Gianna Scardino is a student in Tessalone’s U.S. History I Honors class. She also knows him from the Table Tennis Club and the indoor track and field team.

 “He is a really great track coach. He understands what we go through,” Scardino said. “During track [season] last year, he told us, ‘All the way through the line,’ and that made me think to do everything in life full out.”

PHOTO BY SHELBY PEREZ Mr. Tessalone teaches about the Treaty of Versailles to his U.S. History I Honors class on Dec. 22.

 She said Tessalone is a good teacher because his lessons are always interesting.

“We played Four Corners, [and] we got to express our opinions and views about Native American relationships with European settlers,” Scardino said. “Mr. Tess[alone] always reminds us to be mindful of the grey area and to respect the opinions of others.”

Senior Andreas Spiratos, who is the founder and president of the Table Tennis Club, said Tessalone has encouraged him to be a leader.

 “He taught me how to show others how to play ping pong, teach in class and give back to the community,” Spiratos said. 

 During Spiratos’ sophomore and junior years, Tessalone taught him in U.S. History I Honors and AP U.S. History II.

 “He engages his students in his class. He’s a good teacher overall, and he’s an amazing person,” said Spiratos.

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