The 'Best Job in the World' Nurtured at Lasell
Anthony Petrelis '05
As a Lasell student, Anthony Petrelis '05 was determined to become a teacher. And the College's intimate, close-knit environment for learning helped get him there.
Fixed on his goal, he says the hard work of grinding through classes and preparing for state licensure were well worth the effort and the rewards abundant.
"All of the great teachers I had, from elementary school through Lasell, have left a huge impact in my life, and I want to help share and spread the positive messages that I was so fortunate enough to have," says Petrelis, an award-winning fifth-grade teacher at McGlynn Elementary School in his hometown of Medford, where he lives with his wife Jenna.
A community-centric educator who wakes every day thrilled to be teaching, Petrelis wears multiple hats: football and basketball coach, summer program director, tutor, school council member and MCAS prep program director, among them.
Earlier this Fall, he learned just how effective a teacher he is when he received the national 2014 Milken Educator Award - called the "Oscar of Teaching" by many in education circles.
Days after the big surprise - when he received the award before his school's student body, faculty and administrators -- Petrelis shared with Leaves his reflections on his role as an educator.
You teach fifth grade, and many subjects, do you have a favorite? I love teaching math to children because there are so many different ways of teaching it, and it is nice to see how students use different methods to derive the same answer. You have the freedom to do work visually as well as mentally. Children respond well to the open flexibility to complete a problem the best way they know how, without the pressure of having to solve a problem one way.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? To see the sense of accomplishment and pride students take when they get something correct or are able to explain something to another student in their own words and methods: that makes me feel good. I take pride in caring about my students and being the best role model for them I can be. I try to attend their games and other events outside of school to show them that I care and make them understand I appreciate the hard work they put into everything they do.
Why did you pick Lasell? I visited Lasell College, and the small school setting was something that I really enjoyed. I have always attended small schools that had ''you know everyone'' settings and Lasell felt like the place for me. I also met professors in the education program and was just sold on wanting to pursue the field.
Did you always know you wanted to be an educator? I thought I wanted to be a teacher in high school, but was unsure of the grade level. When I came to Lasell and began observing daycare centers, local schools and completing my observations, elementary school just seemed to be the right place for me.
How were you inspired at Lasell? There were many professors at Lasell who inspired and challenged me. My advisor, Humanities Professor Joe Aieta really challenged people to think. Amy Maynard and John Carroll were also great education professors. I really learned a lot in their classes and was encouraged by their passion for teaching.
How did Lasell help prepare you? Lasell gave me opportunities and school connections, and I appreciate everything it has done for me.
What are your hopes for the future? I enjoy my life as a teacher and a coach. Down the line I may want to explore school administration, becoming a head coach of a high school football team or even becoming a college professor and teaching education classes.
Any message to current students? For students who want to pursue education and become teachers, I think it is the best job in the world. I cannot picture doing anything else in my life but teaching and trying to have an impact on my students' lives.