FALCONER – A Chautauqua County teacher is feeling the love this Teacher Appreciation Week after his students nominated him as part of a national award content, and so far, he’s holding an impressive lead.
Falconer High School’s Biology teacher Mitch Paterniti was nominated by several students for Norwegian Cruise Line’s NCL Giving Joy contest. To his surprise, he’s now leading with over 1,100 votes.
“I’m just really really happy to be here and it’s just really neat that the kids nominated me and it’s amazing to see that many people are going out and voting. It’s really surprising and shocks me a lot,” Paterniti said.
Among those behind the effort to highlight their teacher, is Emily Payne.
“We nominated him and then we got everyone to vote and share it, but a bunch of people shared it and it got really popular,” explained Payne.
Mr. Paterniti’s unique teaching style and personality is likely what makes him so popular.
“I think Paterniti should win because he’s been teaching for 37 years, he’s super enthusiastic about teaching, and always puts a smile on my face everyday,” said Jackson Roth, a high school senior.
Roth isn’t the only one who lauds his teacher.
“It’s always super fun being in his class and in this environment. It’s really nice.” Alexis Adam, another senior said.
“Mr. Paterniti, when he teaches, we’re on the same wavelength. So when he jumps tracks, I jump tracks. He shows visuals, so I understand what he’s talking about versus him droning on about something nobody cares about,” Austin Snow explained.
When it comes to traditional teaching, Paterniti is quite the opposite,
“As we started, we started with rainforests and coral reefs. So for the rainforest I got the plants in here. And then we got into the coral reefs and that’s when I started the saltwater tanks, and then little by little we added the freshwater tanks and amphibians and reptiles. It keeps adding and adding. That’s why I want the big tank in the front, it’s nice to have all the animals around you.” Paterniti explains.
He explains that his job is not just to teach to the students, but teach and learn with them.
“Everybody learning together, not just from a book. That’s not my style,” Paterniti commented on his teaching methods, “It’s always been fun, never been work.”
His classroom boasts an impressive collection of tanks, each with a new and exciting animal on display. As for what he would do with the winnings, the teacher plans to reinvest the funds into his classroom.
“Falconer has treated me wonderful here. They’ve given me everything I could ever want, I got a beautiful room with lots of tanks,” he says. “When they said the top prize was $25,000, they asked me what I would do with it and I said get a bigger tank.”
Voting continues through the end of the month, online at contest.nclgivingjoy.com/entries/936682.