Walking through the third floor of Wilson Hall, upper school students may see the familiar computer-like handwriting and the signature “mate” (a South-American tea) cup of Mr. Anthony Pariano, who has recently made a transition from teaching Form II English to teaching English II and III in the upper school.
Although students here have only known him as a middle school teacher, his roots lay in teaching high schoolers.
“The bulk of my career has been in the upper school level,” Mr. Pariano said. “In many ways it is a return to something familiar for me. I like to keep things new and fresh, and although there are slow changes that occur in the Form II English curriculum, after six years I was looking for something new, material-wise.”
Still, Mr. Pariano’s approach to teaching students has not changed.
“The middle school is interesting,” Mr. Pariano said. “We have sixth graders and First Formers that, while they are growing and developing, are more closely aligned with the lower school, and then Second Formers, with how we work with them, are more aligned to the upper school. I think there was always that upper-school mentality with working with Second Form students.”
Mr. Pariano believes that the fundamentals of being a good English student have not changed.
When designing his class and his lessons, students will recognize a question that is nearly a catchphrase for Mr. Pariano: “What do I see in the text that the common, casual, or careless reader is not likely to see?”
His first lesson of the year involved looking at the photos of the new school website and finding the hidden story being told.
“I like to choose subject matter that is as close to home as possible,” Mr. Pariano explained. “We are becoming more of a visual society and a visual culture, and we think so frequently about stories being revealed through printed text. I thought that exploring subtext in image would push guys to look at something that they are familiar and feel comfortable with in a new way. That’s how I want the course to go, I want students to have a certain level of discomfort and to lean into it.”
One of the main surprises Mr. Pariano has encountered so far in the upper school is seeing the large development of many of his students from middle school.
“The guys in whom I have seen the biggest difference in the early days of being in the upper school are guys that were just Second Formers last year,” Mr. Pariano reflected. “Something kind of ‘magical’ happens here over the summer between Second and Third Form. Even guys who had some difficulty in middle school being as diligent as they needed to be to achieve academically the way they wanted to are now coming into my room and talking to me about life and literature in ways that I had no idea that they were capable of.”
Mr. Pariano has also noticed that the temperament of students in the upper school is much different than middle school students as well.
“There is this level of calmness and level-headedness in the disposition of upper schoolers. There is a willingness to try things that may be difficult, and weather that storm of discomfort,” Mr. Pariano said.
In the near future, students may see Mr. Pariano on the wrestling mat coaching athletes. As an athlete who has wrestled for most of his life and competed at a high level, Mr. Pariano originally had some hesitations coaching again for Haverford.
“Especially after competing in college, I have seen myself as first and foremost an English teacher. As somebody who wrestled, or as a wrestling coach, I sometimes struggled to understand where the worlds overlapped and complemented each other,” Mr. Pariano said. “I think one of the things that I have realized as I now reach the age of fifty is that in many ways, wrestling has shaped me, and I am indeed a wrestler.”
As Mr. Pariano continues to engage with his students and the Upper School community, he hopes to continue to learn.
“The experience of the individual of the Haverford School is quite interesting,” Mr. Pariano said. “I am always open to the idea that there are things that I don’t see [that my students] see.”
“Comfort is overrated.”Mr. Anthony Pariano
As the school year goes on, Mr. Pariano aims for students to realize an important concept for growth: “Comfort is overrated.”