Matthew DiDonato '12

As a science teacher, I strive to create classroom conditions in which the students can discover and think deeply about the reason the universe works the way it does.
Matthew DiDonato, '12
Science, Haddonfield Memorial High School

Since graduating in 2012, I have been teaching at Haddonfield Memorial High School in Haddonfield, NJ.  I taught mathematics (accelerated calculus, advanced precalculus, and basic skills) in my first year, and now I teach in the science department (accelerated physics, astronomy, and computer science).

I am indebted to Teacher Prep for having given me the foundation I needed to become a part of the most rewarding profession one can imagine.  From the moment I first stepped into the Teacher Prep office, the staff and faculty encouraged me, guided me, and challenged me to be the best teacher I could be.  They taught me by example what it meant to be a supportive, caring educator and inspired me to be that person to others.  On my first day of student teaching in Alison Miller's South Brunswick HS classroom, everything felt like it had fallen into place; I knew I was making the right choice for my career.  Now as I enter my third year of having a classroom of my own, I find that each day I love being a teacher even more than I did the day before.  Focusing on the student as a human being first and all of the other challenges and responsibilities second has allowed me to maintain my positivity and enthusiasm.  The desire to improve myself for my students' benefit is what keeps me excited when I am working late hours.  I also find that staying involved in the school community outside of my particular subject area has helped me stay motivated.  Serving as the director of the spring musical and an annual cabaret-style fundraiser for the drama club allows me to share my passion for music with my students and brings variety to my day.  

As a science teacher, I strive to create classroom conditions in which the students can discover and think deeply about the reason the universe works the way it does.  As an undergraduate, I participated in the QUEST Scholars Program.  The inquiry-based learning strategies and mindsets I learned at QUEST continue to help me create meaningful learning experiences for my students.  QUEST also influenced one of my most memorable Teacher Prep endeavors: my senior thesis.  I am still grateful for the flexibility I was granted in preparing a thesis on high school astronomy education.  It was through my thesis that I learned to think about the meaning and goals of science education.  I learned to write and evaluate curricula and individual learning activities.  This has served me especially well in the creation of two brand-new computer science electives I designed and implemented at my school.

The most important lesson I began learning during my time at Teacher Prep and I will continue learning for the rest of my career is that teaching is about relationships.  Each year I have the privilege of meeting 120 new people that I learn with, laugh with, and learn to love in the most appropriate way possible.  I wouldn't trade that for anything.