New York Time’s writer Michael Sokolove recently returned to his alma mater, Truman High, to write, “The Real-Life ‘Glee’ in Levittstown, Pa.” Central to the article is Lou Volpe, his former teacher who directed an outstanding drama program in an otherwise unremarkable town. The article holds lessons for all teachers who want to make a real impact on students.
As Volpe retires after more than 40 years of teaching, the words of former students help define effective teaching. For example, Volpe had applauded Sokolove’s writing as a student by simply asking, “Has anyone ever told you that you’re a good writer?” and making Sokolove aware of his talents beyond the athletic field. Volpe calls Mariela Castillo, who is challenged by a working class background and remedial classes attributed to childhood leukemia, one of his most talented actresses. Of him she says: “In theater, everything is staged and organized. It goes in order and fits together. I’ve seen how Mr. Volpe is so brilliant at that, and it’s helped me organize my life in the same way.”
Of Volpe’s relationship with students, Sokolove writes, “At a certain moment, he knew them better than they knew themselves. That is what gifted, intuitive teachers do. What they say doesn’t have to be that profound — just well timed and well aimed. Their words go to a place that no other teacher, and no parent, has touched.” As the article reveals, Volpe’s gifts are hard won through self-motivated professional development, self-exploration, and recognition of students’ potential. Read entire article.