This is the third in my series on passionate people. You can read the first entry on passionate people where I profile Steve Lewis . You can also read over there for what this series is all about. You can also follow the ‘passion’ category to see these (and a few other) stories.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting John Magliozzi, a jack-of-all-trades over at Billerica Memorial High School in Billerica, MA. John heads up the DECA curriculum/activity at BMHS. This year, there was a focus on social media, and John was looking for some assistance with that portion of the curriculum. I learned of this through a mutual connection, and offered to help. It was through this offer that I got to see, first-hand, how passionate John is about educating and reaching out to students to get them excited about learning.
Who is John Magliozzi?
John Magliozzi works at Billerica Memorial High School, a mid-size suburban school with approximately 1500 students located about 20 miles northwest of Boston, Massachusetts, as a Business Education teacher for the past 13 years. In this role, John has the unique opportunity to inspire, develop, and lead young men and women to live healthy, productive, and responsible lives and to be active members in our government and understand their role in our economy. As a teacher, John provides his students with authentic projects that will give them a true sense of the expectations in the marketplace.
John holds a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, MA, and is currently matriculating at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts for his master’s degree in Secondary Education.
I got a chance to ask John some questions after we finished this year’s DECA competition. Here’s a summary of what we spoke about.
A little bit of background. What got you into teaching? When did you have that ‘a ha’ moment, where you decided that being an astronaut or fireman or president wasn’t for you, and teaching was where it’s at?
My interest in teaching grew from coaching Pop Warner and High school football. I really enjoyed working with teenagers and I seem to be able to create a nature rapport with them. I took the time to work as a permanent substitute teacher at Burlington High School to see if it was what I thought it would be and it turned out to be all I ever could want it to be!
Which of your teachers or professors inspired you? How or why?
I guess it’s a classic statement…My high school football coach was the greatest influence on my outlook and approach to working with kids. There is a lot of pride in making a bad player into a good player, a good player into a great player, and teaching a great player how to make everyone great around them, lead by example and a positive attitude.
Tell the readers a bit about DECA.
DECA is simply the most powerful academic organization for high school students. It truly connects the high school academics with the business world. It’s a non-profit organization that assists in the development of future leaders in entrepreneurship, marketing, management, finance, and hospitality. The organization has 200,000 members annually from across the globe including all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, and Germany.
How did you get involved with DECA?
Thirteen years ago, I chaperoned the State DECA competition and witnessed the competitive spirit, enthusiasm, and passion each student possessed and all the happy, mad, sad, and glad that went along with aspiring to be the best business student in there occupational category. It was hook, line and sinker for me and I have been the advisor ever since.
How do you feel DECA prepares the kids for what’s next in their lives?
It is the most complete package of growing academically, socially, emotionally, and professionally. The skills and confidence are unlimited! Vocational understanding, leadership development, social intelligence and being community orientated all go along with the program.
How much of your time is spent doing DECA-related work when it’s in season?
Over the past few years the season doesn’t end… Usually, there are some highly motivated students that get right to work on their project for next year. In 2011, we had 11 students working hard all summer! Crazy, right? ‘Academics during summer vacation’ – it truly is the power of DECA! It’s a co-curricular program so it’s hard to be accurate with time, but it can consume 15 hour each week. At the competitions, I am responsible for them 24 hours a day while away on 3-day/2-night trips and a 6-day/5-night trip.
What’s your track record been at local, state, and national DECA championships?
100 to 120 students participate each year, Nearly 100% are local finalist and compete at the state competition. Usually, 30% finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd and another 40% will finish 4th through 10th. 30% will go to the National competition. In the past 4 years, BMHS teams have placed first three times and third once. Since 2005, we have had teams place in the top ten at the national competition.
What’s been a personal teaching challenge of yours, and how have you overcome it?
Being tough on them daily. I want them to feel at home, but have to provide tough love now and again to keep it balanced. I treat all the kids like my own and hardly ever say no to them. If they need something, I usually give in!
What’s different about teaching now compared to the way you were taught when you were in high school?
There is less ‘fact recall’ required, and a greater focus on application of knowledge.
Can you comment on the role of technology in the classroom today?
Technology allows you to entertain and engage the students. We are competing with an over-stimulated generation, so we must entertain them in order to engage and teach them. We need to keep them interested!
Lastly… Who gets more out of DECA – you, or the kids?
It’s a platform for all. I enjoy the competition, which keeps me growing professionally and I know that my students will benefit in a number of ways know matter what trophy they may or may not bring home!
It might seem like John went on and on about DECA, and this may have appeared as a commercial for DECA. But note that I asked a few other questions as well. These were the questions that got the best, raw, responses. What does it say when an interviewee will pass up questions about themselves and instead focus on what really gets them going? John and DECA are two elements of such a combination.
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