One day, I overheard the school director compliment my teacher, calling him a “Master of the Educational Arts,” to which he responded “Thanks. But I am just a dude with a whiteboard and some fun info to share.”
At University Lake School, Stephen Tomasini taught every science course except Chemistry to our small, secluded school of 95 kids that lay on Hawk Hill. Mr. Tomasini is hard to describe, as he is a paradox. He is the hardest, most demanding teacher I have ever had the honor to meet, yet he is the most caring, selfless, and nurturing person.
Mr. Tomasini is a peaceful hippie of an eighth grade and high school teacher who wore earrings that matched the upcoming holiday or current season. He is a former Navy SEAL, but no one would be able to tell just by talking to him, as he does not seek the glory that comes with being a veteran. Instead, he seeks to educate his students (child or adult) about the world they live in; furthermore, he seeks to inspire them to care and tend to their planet with the same love and compassion that he does.
He is a force, as he had the will to teach at ULS for countless years. As if that were not an accomplishment enough, his teaching rarely occured in the classroom. Our classes were spent outside, studying the cycle of life, flight patterns of migratory birds, learning about invasive species and how to properly remove them from our ecosystem.
Being an educator is difficult; and being an educator becomes much more difficult when educating the same people over the course of many years. Mr. Tomasini was one of the few educators who refused to become a pushover and allow his students to fall behind. He was reasonable, yet at the same time, the textbook definition of tough love. His refusal to ever lighten up truly taught me how to persevere in not only my academic career, but outside of the five-day-a-week grind as well.
He has inspired me to continue learning, not just about the topics taught, but also to push myself to learn about every aspect of…well, everything and anything that interests me through the lessons he taught me, I learned not only about the world I live in, but also about how to be a better person and to attack every interest I have with everything I have. In my opinion, that is exactly what every educator should strive to do for their pupils.