Interview with Mr. Lodato: Featured New Faculty Member
Volume 4 Issue 2
January 16, 2024
Image provided by Rehmat Kaur
I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Lodato, the new Special Education teacher, and learning more about his journey that led him to being a teacher here at North.
Before he started teaching, he coached baseball for around 8 or 9 years. He worked with a teacher and recognized many similarities between coaching baseball between 13 and 18 and teaching. He felt strong at communicating, teaching, and being hands-on with his players, and after discussing with his coach, he stated, "I decided to go into teaching, and I'm very lucky that I did!” Mr. Lodato played college baseball for a short time, but he wanted to complete his studies first. Following that, he opted to pursue an undergraduate degree in Communications with a minor in English at SUNY Farmingdale. It started with Liberal Arts, then moved on to Communications and a lot of public speaking. After finishing his Bachelor's degree, he leaned toward Journalism and English. After deciding what he wanted to do, he went to Molloy University for a dual master's degree in English and Special Education.
Mr. Lodato only heard positive things about North from Mr. Pandolfi, and he felt fortunate that his résumé was accepted and handed to Mrs. Vickse, who ended up interviewing him. "Here we are, and this place is great, I love it!" Mr. Lodato added.
Currently he co-teaches two IST classes with special education students. He has a 10th grade IST class (Earth Science with Mr. Roveto) and an 11th grade IST class (English with Ms. Belbol) for individual skill development. He also finished his first season coaching Junior High Football in fall, coaches Varsity Girls Basketball in winter and will jump on board with Mr. Sanfilippo and Mr. Casella for Varsity Baseball Team in spring.
What do you love most about teaching?
“The connections that you make with the students. Everyone remembers, at least for me when I was in high school. You remember the teachers that you really liked or really did not have good experiences with, and I always try to remind myself of that and go on the side of being the one that kids do remember in a good way. It is important, especially in the age group of 14 to 18 the high school age when lots is going on and you are trying to figure out what you want to do in life, so it is important to have an adult figure point you in the right direction.”
What characteristics do students want their teachers to possess?
“Kindness, lead with kindness. I'm a big believer in first impressions, so especially as a new teacher I don’t want to come in, not that I'm like this anyway, but you don't want to come in with the grumpy face or being angry. As a substitute, I learned fast, I was a substitute teacher for the last two years at Island trees at Levittown. If you walk in with a bad attitude, the kids feed off that. I think their day takes a hit if you walk in with a bad attitude. So, I think kindness and positivity goes a long way as a teacher.”
How was your first day or week here at North?
“It was cool, I mean it was different, being in a different area you always have to take some time to adjust a little bit but I'm lucky that I have a special ed department that's so welcoming. There's so many of us and everyone has been super welcoming and nice and upfront. It also helps that I coached football guys over the summer. There were summer clinics, I knew some people already before the first day of school, I knew Mr. Casella, Coach P, and a couple of other football guys and I also knew Mr. Pandolfi like I said. Knowing people in the building, instead of just walking into a place without knowing anybody definitely helps.”
His advice to cope with stress and to motivate students is to look at the bigger picture. It is easier to take steps little by little instead of having negative thoughts. “I try to motivate them to finish the task at hand, instead of just looking at the grand scheme of things” Mr. Lodato adds.
Mr. Lodato shared this beautiful quote: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you what kind of person you are” Mr. Lodato’s dad has told him since middle school, and it really resonated with him. He states that it is important to surround yourself with good people doing the right thing and are on the path of having a good life.
Some fun facts about Mr. Lodato are that he enjoys sushi and that The Great Gatsby is his favorite novel. He read it in high school, and it is the book that stayed with him the most. Fall is his favorite season because “football is on, it's hoodie season, and I associate fall with peace and relaxation." He also enjoys watching hockey, playing baseball, and reading autobiographies.
Mr. Lodato is an exceptional individual with a lot of enthusiasm, and we are extremely fortunate to have him as a teacher here at North.