Walking into any classroom to find that Mr. Balistreri is the substitute teacher is similar to walking into a comedy after being stuck in nine different periods of horror films. He is an incredibly funny man with a scratchy voice that adds to his character. Immediately, when I walk in the room, the bantering begins (and anyone who knows me knows I love to banter). He is one of few teachers who is not afraid to discuss any topic. He tells personal stories about his life, that have some sort of moral in the end. He is incredibly personal with his students in the best way, which for a substitute teacher is rare because they have new students every day.
Mr. Balistreri is a professional man, who manages to turn school into a place of fun. He effectively communicates the expectations of the day for each class he covers for, and yet still manages to make even the driest of subjects comical. Of course, class still entails completing the lesson of the day, but after work is completed, the remainder of the hour is spent having strange and interesting conversations.
He manages to perfectly balance the professional with the hysterical. Our class always completes the assignments we need, but after that, it’s pure entertainment.
Mr. Balistreri is a musician as well as substitute teacher. On multiple occasions, he spontaneously whipped out a guitar and created impromptu songs. More often than not, these songs are based on our conversations. For example, right before Christmas break Mr. Balistreri was substituting for my tenth hour journalism class. I said the word “ishes” in a teenage substitution for the word “issues.” Of course, this was one of Mr. Balistreri’s opportunities to emphasize my grammatical error through song. He whipped out his guitar and started singing a song that went along the lines “all my fishes have ishes, all my fishes have ishes.” I have never used the word ishes since. His sarcastic way of calling out my error actually did correct it.
Sometimes, classes become dry when the teacher loses energy. But this loss of energy, I have never witnessed happen to Mr. Balistreri. He is sarcastic, witty, controversial, and wise. He knows what he is doing, but he also is unique.
Mr. Balistreri can accurately edit an essay one moment, and the next moment, freak out with me over a concealer stick of makeup I lost the day before. One time I actually lost my favorite concealer pen. I was mid-meltdown, and sarcastically Mr. Balistreri went along with it adding in “OMG! EVERYONE STOP WRITING! NATALIE LOST HER CONCEALER!” He is fun to be around whether we are discussing academics, or the tragedy that was my lost concealer.
For reasons that are indescribable, I nominate Frank Balistreri for this award. There is no true way to make you understand how fun Mr. Balistreri is to be around, until you meet him yourself. Mr. Balistreri has encouraged me to have fun at school, and to not get too wrapped up in technicalities. He is always having fun, and I hope to be exactly the same way inside of the school environment, as well as outside of school.