Editor’s note: This is the next in a series of interviews with local educators — answers to essay questions, if you will — speaking to their personal experience as teachers in an unprecedented era.
By Greg Carannante
City & Shore Magazine
The student-teacher relationship is not a secondary concern to Vinny Greco.
“Allowing teachers to teach and focus on cultivating relationships with students that allow them to grow as people is what education should be about,” says the eight-year teacher for North Broward Preparatory School in Coconut Creek.
An educator for 12 years, Greco is Upper School Social Sciences Chair and middle school Civics teacher. The Delray Beach resident also coaches the offensive line for the varsity football team.
As a teacher, what has been your greatest challenge over the course of this school year?
The greatest challenge has been trying to find the sweet spot of being empathetic with students and the tough journey they have had over the course of the pandemic, while also being sure to engage them and provide a meaningful, rigorous educational experience that continues to prepare them for college and beyond.
What has given you your biggest sense of accomplishment?
Having a classroom environment where students feel welcomed and where they enjoy learning and can be themselves. It gives me such joy and pride when students want to be in your room and is the reason I remain in the classroom.
What makes you tick?
I love coaching and teaching students and building a rapport with each of them. Those relationships and interactions are what makes teaching worthwhile.
Who or what is your personal inspiration?
I was inspired to teach by my mother. She was an American Sign Language interpreter for students with learning differences. She worked in schools in a variety of capacities and the passion she had for it was infectious to me. I was drawn to those relationships she built with her students, and it made me want to be a teacher.
If you were in charge, what would you change about education in America?
First and foremost, all educational policy decisions should be made by folks who actually were classroom teachers. So many of the problems in our educational system are due to folks who prioritize standardized testing and curriculum oversight. I wish policymakers would see the benefit of allowing students to chase their passions, learn valuable skills and fall in love with learning. That can only happen without the fear of state-mandated exams that also are tied to teacher performance.
What is the word that you feel best describes today’s student, and why?
Students today are creative, savvy, caring and conscientious. They know so many different ways to share their passions, exhibit their talents, while also being mindful of what is going on in their communities and the world at-large. They are mature, knowledgeable and growth oriented. We as teachers need to catch up to the methods and mediums in which they enjoy learning.
What kind of student were you?
I loved history and football. Sometimes everything else took a back seat. Having adults in my life that pushed me to grow and stay focused on all of my academics was key to me growing as a student and a person.
Photo: Vinny Greco and two of his students, courtesy.