Angela Principato was named The Lancer’s 2018 Person of the Year
Mary Dupuis ’19
Posted on Wednesday, June 13th, 2018
Inspiring everyone around her, Dr. Angela Principato’s presence in the school hallways and on social media platforms like Twitter can’t be missed.
Principato’s dedication to her students, as well as her constant drive to find ways to better herself as a teacher and a person, have earned her the title of The Lancer’s 2018 Person of the Year.
Principato has taught at South Lake High School for 15 years now due to her love for the family feel of the district. “I love how small we are. I think that it truly gives us a community and a family feeling that you don’t get at schools that have, you know, a thousand kids. I really like that,” says Principato.
Currently teaching Algebra One, Pre-Calculus, and Financial Literacy, Principato has a life that is devoted to teaching. However, teaching was not her first choice in college.
“I didn’t go to college to become a teacher. I actually got the chance to start tutoring and teaching when I was in college and that’s when I realized I really enjoyed doing that kind of work,” says Principato. “It was kind of an afterthought; it wasn’t my original plan,” adds Principato.
Regardless of how she found her calling, students admire Principato for her teaching style and her desire for them to succeed. To her students, Principato is not just a teacher, but someone they can look to for life lessons and important advice.
“She is more than a teacher. She doesn’t just teach the stuff and expect you to do it and get good grades. She’s understanding and she jokes and stuff. She has a meme wall,” says junior Abigail Holmes.
Senior Jaylen Lewis agrees, saying that Principato has taught him not just school work, but important life lessons as well.
“Principato, she’s a good teacher. She’s taught us a lot of things, and she’s fun to work with. I learned from her to stay motivated and keep going, keep pursuing,” says Lewis.
However, it is not only students that learn from Principato, but her fellow staff members as well. One staff member that works very closely with Principato is science teacher Paul Voydanoff, who claims to have learned many valuable lessons from her.
“I’ve learned from her to never quit, to constantly try and find new things to help students out, and that there’s never just one way to teach or one style to teach, and to constantly learn new stuff,” says Voydanoff. “She also taught me to not be afraid to fail. Failing is just learning; so it might not work but it isn’t the end of the world and you can try something different,” adds Voydanoff.
As co-North Central Accreditation and School Improvement Team chairs, Voydanoff and Principato are in charge of collecting data on student growth in the school. This along with the fact that the material for their classes overlaps means that Voydanoff and Principato spend a great deal of time working together, earning them the titles of each other’s work husband and wife.
According to principal Robert Beato, one of Principato’s side jobs from teaching is keeping Voydanoff in check. “I love the way she puts Mr. Voydanoff in his place,” says Beato.
After years of teaching, Principato has mastered the perfect blend of sarcasm and constructive instruction that creates an environment that students are not only able to learn in, but enjoy as well.
One thing that students look forward to the most in Principato’s class is the balance that she creates between learning and fun that keeps everyone involved.
“My favorite part about her class is the atmosphere, because there’s control, because she has the respect of students, but can also go back and forth from joking around to being serious,” says Holmes.
Freshman Michael Rushlow also feels that Principato keeps a good balance between strictness and fun. “She seems to be a very outgoing teacher and willing to help you if you need it; she’s strict about work, but kind of chill about other stuff,” says Rushlow.
Lewis also enjoys the way that Principato brings fun into the learning environment. He says that his favorite part of class is the second half when they come back from lunch and finish their work and can have fun with Principato.
“My favorite thing about her is when she tells stories. She tell us her stories and then sometimes she’ll take a little bit of time out of our class to tell us a couple things and joke around,” adds Lewis.
Principato’s famous stories call on her past experiences as a college professor as well as her recent experiences in college earning her doctorate. She draws on these experiences in order to give advice to her students who will soon be entering that world. In addition to using her experiences in college to advise her students on how to tackle their classes, she also uses them to structure her own.
“I like to talk about my personal experiences both as a student in college and teaching in college,” says Principato. “The things that sometimes I do here as a teacher I wouldn’t do as a professor in college. I make sure that students understand that extra credit is few and far between here, because you pretty much don’t get it in college and I don’t want to enable students to have a false sense of security for what they can do,” adds Principato.
While Principato believes that her extensive amount of time spent in the collegiate setting helps make her a better teacher, she also thinks that there are always other ways besides getting a doctorate to improve as well. “There’s a lot of stuff that I learned in my classes to get my doctorate that I think helps me. But I think any teacher who wants to become better will seek out resources,” says Principato.
One of Principato’s favorite aspects of teaching is when her students let her know that what she taught them helped, and that they appreciate her.
“I do like when students contact me after college or after high school and appreciate what I did for them. I like when students appreciate me when they’re here, but a lot of times it happens after the fact, so I like that,” says Principato.
Often times Principato utilizes social media platforms like Twitter to catch up with graduated classes and in order to send students positive messages on hard test days. However, her social media beginnings came about due to a parody account students made for her class.
“I don’t remember what year I started using Twitter, but it was because students had a ‘sh*t Mrs. P. says’ Twitter account and I needed to make sure that they were saying the right stuff about me and that they weren’t fabricating the stuff I said,” says Principato. “But, my current use of Twitter is another way to keep track of my former students and see how they’re doing and touch base with them if I need to,” adds Principato.
From keeping in contact with students to always striving for better ways to achieve success, Principato’s passion for what she does and constant drive to find ways to better herself as a teacher are noticed and admired by Voydanoff and all of the students around her.
“I admire her quest, like she’s always looking to find better ways of teaching. She’s never stopped learning and she’s willing to change her methods. She isn’t set in her ways, she’s willing to change how she teaches if she feels that it will better serve her students,” says Voydanoff.
While some teachers are set in their ways and refuse to put in the extra effort to reform their teaching style to benefit all students, Principato is exactly the opposite. Her efforts to ensure that all of her students learn and succeed do not go unrecognized.
“You can see she’s passionate in what she does and she actually wants to make sure that kids understand and learn something,” says Holmes.
Many coworkers and students also admire Principato for the respect and approachability that she shows them.
“When I think of Dr. Principato I remember she is always approachable, she has a great sense of humor, and I can go to her with any type of question because she’s very smart. She’s always willing to help out,” says Beato. “She doesn’t make anyone feel small and she doesn’t make a big deal that they don’t know the answer,” adds Beato.
Principato states it best herself, saying that her advice for students would be to know that their teachers are there for them. “My best piece of advice for students would be to know that your teachers really are here to help you and that, if you’re willing to put in the effort, we’re willing to put in more effort to help you,” says Principato.
Like Beato, Principato’s students appreciate this quality about her as well. “I feel like she actually cares. She helps out her students she makes sure they have what they need,” says freshman Tysha Lannex.
Beato says that her love for what she does and for the students that she does it for makes all the difference.
“I just really love the way that she shows that she not only loves the subject that she teaches, but she also loves the students,” says Beato.
This love for teaching and constant drive to better herself and everyone around her has made Principato a teacher to remember and earned her the title of The Lancer’s person of the year.