Educator of the Year for Mr. Balistreri

April 3, 2009
By Jonathan Block GOLD, Sussex, Wisconsin
Jonathan Block GOLD, Sussex, Wisconsin
13 articles 0 photos 0 comments

You walk in and are instantly serenaded by the soft tunes of Mr. Balistreri. His voice is unique and with his singing, as well as his teaching, it’s his voice that keeps you enticed.
English class was often a drag, and I fought to keep interest even in daily lectures. With Mr. Balistreri, however, English, poetry, punctuation, and an overall greater understanding of interpretation came from his words.

His different teaching methods always end with, “Did you guys get that?” or “Do you guys kind of understand that?” He gives students a chance to interject, but also a chance for me to laugh. He has many phrases that relate subjects to us. Most recently, his “Balistreri sequence,” which, as it turns out, is much like the Fibonacci sequence, just with Mr. B’s name in front of it.

His love and passion for what he does is visible by .the amount of research and knowledge he has accumulated over his 32 years of teaching

For Mr. Balistreri, a board uncluttered is a board unused. He often has student-made pictures from previous classes displayed to help us get through the lesson, or relate materials to us. He also has a vocabulary of made-up/Anglo-Saxon words he uses so as to not subject us to profanity. He keeps it light and fun, which is what most kids need in their stressful days. He even tries to pass off running into the door and smashing his nose just for comic relief.

He also has interests outside the classroom. He is a professional guitarist. He tells us how he played in pubs half-way around the world. His passion for music has made him the must-see at The Arrowhead choir and Broadway Company productions.

Mr. Balistreri is personable, even to kids. He asked us to write a poem based on “Come live with me and be my love,” by Christopher Marlowe. The day we turned them in, he read them aloud to us in the most peculiar way: he sang each one to us while he strummed away on his guitar.

I am nominating Mr. Frank Balistreri for Teen Ink’s educator of the year award because he is fresh, knowledgeable, and relatable. His way of teaching and reaching out to the school through music makes him someone I can both go to for school help, and real-life advice. He makes students feel at home, and with some playful banter, he just might make you wish you weren’t home.

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