In just his third year of teaching at Vista Academy in Brooklyn, a 2012 SJC Long Island graduate received the Principal’s Award for Educator of the Year at the middle school.
“The most rewarding aspect of teaching is being able to witness true growth – academic, social and emotional,” said Joseph Aguila, an English language arts teacher for sixth- and seventh-grade special education inclusion classes at the school in East New York. “There is nothing greater than knowing that I made any kind of contribution (to) the outcome of such growth.
“It is a true honor to be able to serve these students who will one day become responsible citizens of the world (and) who will soon serve others,” he added.
An SJC Foundation
Aguila, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in adolescence education, credited much of his success to the training and mentoring he obtained from his professors at St. Joseph’s.
In particular, he noted the inspiration he received from Marc Ricciardi, Ph.D., an associate professor of English at SJC Long Island.
“His writing course was the first of three of his courses I had the honor of taking,” said Aguila, who at SJC Long Island was president of both the Sigma Xi chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon and the volunteer club, STARS. “He taught us his infamous ‘Fried Chicken Method’ for writing essays.”
The Fried Chicken Method is a detailed explanation of what information should be included where in an academic paper – right down to the number of sentences.
“Not only am I forever grateful for his energetic – far be it from me to say eccentric – personality in the classroom, but I have him to thank for inspiring me to adapt this writing method to what my students know as the Ducky Tie Method,” Aguila said. “The Ducky Tie Method was named after a vibrant Ducky Tie that I own. I actually wear it and use it every year on the first day that I teach this writing method.
Aguila noted that the he uses the tie to represent an organized structure, telling his students that “writing essays is like tying a tie: taking each necessary step in the process will lead to effective results.”
“I then usually demonstrate tying the tie while narrating each step as though it was part of an essay. I also tie it in an unorganized, disheveled manner to show them the difference between taking their time with the steps of the process and choosing to simply rush without ‘editing and revising,'” Aguila said.
“Dr. Ricciardi once promised, in his own Ricciardic fashion, that if I adapt (his writing) method to my teaching career, I would be guaranteed tenure; as fate would have it, I seem to be on my way,” he said.
Along with gaining an education, Aguila also gained a soulmate. “I would not be the person I am without the never-ending support and encouragement from my beautiful wife,” he said, referring to 2011 SJC Long Island graduate Natalie Higbee-Aguila. “She inspires me to always be grateful for every day that I have with my students and to always strive for growth.”