The first ever keynote speaker at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development’s graduation ceremony implored graduates to spread the news about the positive experiences gained in their classrooms, emphasizing that educators have the power to change the tone of discussion about the state of America’s education system.
Matthew Tosiello, a third grade teacher at Randolph Elementary School in Arlington, Va., received a master’s in secondary education with a concentration in English as a second language from GW in 2008. He was named Arlington County Public School’s 2011 Teacher of the Year this spring.
Education is a challenging career path, Tosiello said. He spoke of the time commitment necessary and the frustrations expressed by educators, who encounter frequent criticism as the nation’s education system is examined. It’s hard not to become discouraged, Tosiello added, but educators need only to look at their students to see that negative coverage rarely tells the whole story.
Individuals can change the tone of the debate on education, he said, provided they take the time to frequently share the success stories they encounter daily in the classroom.
“There are so many hidden gems out there. As educators, we need to seek them out and let the public know,” Tosiello said. “I believe that we can and need to change the tenor of the rhetoric.”
Tosiello spoke of one of his first students, who arrived in the classroom with a limited grasp of the English language. Undeterred, Tosiello and other instructors spent long hours working with the student, helping him grow in his new environment. On one memorable occasion, Tosiello taught his class to make paper cranes as a way to spice up a geometry lesson – an activity the young student struggled with. Instead of giving up, however, the boy returned the next day with enough paper cranes for the entire class. Years later, he returned to Tosiello’s class again, this time to share his inclusion on an honor roll.
“Hard work and motivation allowed him to succeed,” Tosiello said. “It should be a lesson for all of us.”