Westford Academy’s new addition to its special education department, John DiGennaro, is looking forward to a great year.
Q: What high school and college did you attend?
A: I attended high school down in New York. I went to a high school by the name of Locust Valley High School. I went to college in New York as well, at Long Island University.
Q: What made you want to teach at Westford Academy?
A: I’ve heard incredible things about this district and the community of Westford, particularly at Westford Academy. I have a very good friend that works here in the foreign language department: Mr. St Dennis. Both him and I moved up here with our families at the same time. He has been telling me for a while now how this school is just such a great place to work, so when a position turned up I took my shot, and here I am
Q: How long have you been teaching?
A: I have been teaching for almost twenty years. I started teaching back in 2001.
Q: Do you like the environment at Westford Academy so far?
A: Very much so. I think the student body is awesome. I have only been here for a couple of weeks but I feel like already, students are recognizing me in the halls. I feel like even the students who don’t know me reach out and say hello. WA is just a very welcoming environment and a supportive environment. There is really great energy here.
Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?
A: I love working with kids. I got into teaching because I wanted to help people. So that’s a large part of why I got into teaching special education. I just think that it is one of the greatest jobs that a person can have. It’s an incredible responsibility, but it’s incredibly rewarding.
Q: Did you always see yourself being a special education teacher?
A: Honestly, when I was younger I think like a lot of young people I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted to do. I started to figure it while I was in college and eventually when I went into a graduate school. I had numerous other hobbies, but when I decided to teach I knew it was what I was meant to do.
Q: Do you feel you have grown as a teacher over the last 20 years, and if so, in what ways?
A: I think if you have done anything for 20 years, if you haven’t grown you have to question what you are doing. Because education is constantly evolving, it is a field that is very fluid and I think there is a lot to learn, not only in terms of teaching practices but the kids have changed. The students that I have worked with over the years have evolved and the world around us has changed; I think the key is adapting to that and growing with the times. I have had opportunities over the years to do a lot of professional development and it’s really given me an opportunity to improve my teaching. I do still think that I can learn more.
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of school?
A: I have a number of hobbies outside of teaching. I am a singer, a songwriter, guitarist and musician. I also did a lot of charity work down in New York. I did a big benefit concert, a Christmas concert, down in New York for 15 years and I was able to raise close to 200,000 dollars for a charity. I would say my greatest passion outside of those things would be my wife and two daughters.
Q: Is there anything else we should know about you?
A: Just that I’m really approachable, and I’m willing to work with all students including students I don’t see on a day to day basis. I’m really excited to get more involved in the building whether it be in the arts or just with the students and faculty.