Teacher Spotlight: Mr. DiGruccio, New Freshman and Sophomore English Teacher
Zarya Hubbard, 10th Grade, Staff Writer
One of many new teachers at our school this year, we are thankful to Mr. DiGruccio for interviewing with Common Sense for this issue!
Q: How and when did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?
A: When I was younger I always wanted to be a teacher … I was discouraged, though, by my family, so I kind of abandoned it for a while. But then I dropped out of college for a bit, and when I decided to go back, I was like, I’m gonna do what I wanna do, and so I decided to go for teaching. But what really sealed the deal for me was when I was doing student teaching and one of the kids was saying how horrible he felt because he was a semester behind. [I told] him about my situation and why I dropped out of college, and how it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to do your job … And he told me that was the first time anyone had said anything positive about him staying behind, and I felt then that I had a purpose to take my experiences and use them to help other students feel better about their education.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of teaching?
A: The interactions in the classroom. The conversations, the discussions that we have about books, about life … It lets me be a little more extroverted because I’m not usually that outgoing.
Q: Why did you decide to teach English?
A: Before I was an English major, I was a philosophy major, and when I decided to become a teacher, the people at the education department said I couldn’t [teach philosophy] because philosophy isn’t taught in high school. I narrowed it down to either English or History because to me, those are the two closest subjects to philosophy. I chose English over history because history requires economics and I’m horrible with math, so I went with literature.
Q: What teaching experience did you have before coming to The High School of American Studies?
A: I’ve taught all kinds of students. I’ve taught higher level advanced kids … I’ve taught the YABC [Young Adult Borough Center] programs, I’ve taught kids that don’t speak English. That was my previous school, teaching kids how to read and write in English while teaching them [everything] they need to know to pass the Regents. I’ve had a lot of different experiences and some of them were more enjoyable than others, but I think they’ve all taught me something and they all made me a better teacher.
Q: What made you want to come to HSAS?
A: I was ready to move on from my other school because [while] I loved helping kids learn English, I missed teaching English literature and talking about abstract concepts. I knew that this was a well-run school and that here I would be able to challenge the students in a way that I hadn’t before.
Q: Are you planning to make any changes to the curriculum here?
A: I have only one tenth-grade class and I’m following what Ms. Mosco does, so I’m not going to change much of that. But for the ninth grade, between my own personal preferences and from what I’ve heard from the sophomores, I did want to make a few changes. I am keeping the Odyssey and Julius Caesar, because I like those and it’s keeping with the tradition of the school. I’m not going to be using The Once and Future King or Beowulf. I’m bringing two new books, and the first one is called The Stranger by Albert Camus, which has a lot of existential philosophy. And the second one is The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, and again, I’m gonna tie in some philosophy, which I hope the students will enjoy.
Mr. DiGruccio Teaching his Class