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Recognizing Teacher Appreciation Week – Thursday, May 7, 2015

Stephen ZurloPhoto of students and staff



What do you do to engage your students? What makes your classroom unique?

We’re all snowflakes in this world. It has to be unique because we’re all unique. I don’t look at it like a class. All these kids are all my family. I jump out of bed and go to spend time with my family. It’s always been that way, and probably always will be. Every time I come here, I like to think that every one of the kids and the staff are part of my extended family. None of this 40-minute class thing. The day just keeps going. I don’t call it a job.

photo of staff and studentsWhy do you think it's important to teach the way you do?

Skills in PE are an everyday life thing – it’s the other 23 hours of the day – what are you going to do in that time?
I try to make contact with every single kid I see in this building every day, try to know the kids’ names, and they so much appreciate that. Just acknowledging them by eye, a wave, or by name, every time. I get so much courtesy and respect from the kids, it makes every experience pleasant. A reflection on that is when I’m away at an athletic contest and a sub comes in what happens? They say ‘this is the best place to sub in.’ So that’s a reflection on your room, and how it’s managed. This is what we like to see happen. Using a lot of “we” rather than “I.” Instead of “I want you to do this,” it’s “can we make this happen?” If I do a rules game and the kids are playing, I’ve done my job if none of the kids have a question about the game’s rules at the end. That means everything was laid out so they could understand it.

photo of students

Coach Zurlo making pasta in GHFS' International Cuisine course.

What do you feel is the most exciting thing about teaching?

The best part of my year is graduation day. I want that stairway job [referring to the staffing assignment of the auditorium stairway leading up to the stage] I want to see the kids the last second before they walk up there and get their diploma. When it’s your family, that’s what you do.
I’ve been so blessed. When somebody asks 'what would you do if you could do it all over again?' I would be a teacher. I was told a long time ago that a good teacher can teach anything. When you can present information to children so they learn from it and they are stretched, it doesn’t matter what the subject is. One of my favorite things to do is get out of the gym. Last week I cooked pasta with students in a cuisine course. I brought in my pasta cutter, we mixed the dough, rolled it out, ran it through the machine, tossed it in the water, put it into the homemade sauce. The kids loved it! I would do that every day.

What singular lesson plan, activity, assignment or experiment do you return to year after year because of its "spark" factor with you and/or your students?

I don’t have a favorite unit. Every tick of the clock should be my favorite thing. The only way I can have a bad day is if I make it that way. It’s my perception on how to look at things, and I really can’t have a bad day.

Tell us a little more about yourself.

I graduated from Saint Mary's here in Glens Falls and have been teaching in Glens Falls City Schools since 1991.