School has often been seen by students as boring or monotonous. However, instructors like Nicholas Politano of Portage High School prove that can going to school can be both meaningful and exciting. A special education teacher, Politano is driven to make a difference in his students’ lives while also having fun along the way.
“I’ve always wanted to get into education, so working at Portage High has given me the perfect opportunity to really help improve the lives of our youth,” Politano said.
Politano states that he strives to bring a positive, inclusive atmosphere and establish a strong sense of community and engagement. He further stated that as a teacher, he feels obligated to help students both in their academics and in their development into adults, especially this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Being a special education teacher is a lot of work and requires so much dedication,” Politano said. “It’s really important to put your heart into what you do, even if it means adding more work into your work. Once you fully put yourself into your job, you become so much more motivated to make it awesome.”
Since he began teaching at Portage High three years ago, Politano has started a gaming club, where students participate in playing games ranging from tabletop games like "Dungeons and Dragons" to video games like "Rock Band." Last year, he also incorporated anime and other pop culture phenomena into the club, which got many additional students involved. He also stated that he is working on incorporating Esports in the near future.
“When they’re not learning, this club is a great opportunity to have students take it easy and enjoy free time with their classmates,” Politano said. “It’s a wonderful experience to have all these different kinds of students coming together and cultivating their own healthy community. It’s not something I had during high school, so it’s been a wonderful feeling to provide that space for them.”
“My work as both a teacher and in the gaming club has taught me how important it is to treat others with compassion, especially in these trying times,” Politano said. “When we open ourselves to others, we slowly start to realize how similar we are and how much empathy matters.”
Politano states that when he’s not teaching, he loves talking about his favorite games and anime with his students, such as "Super Smash Bros." and "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood."