Teacher Feature on Mr. Carellas


Ren Bondoc and Elijah Lopez

How long have you been teaching at SASD?

I teach sixth-grade math and social studies at Stroudsburg Middle School. This is my “Silver Anniversary” in teaching (i.e. my 25th year).

Is there anything you wish you had known as a first-year teacher?

Actually, no! There’s an old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” If I had known everything that befalls a teacher during my first year, I probably would have run in the opposite direction of the school … and kept running, a la Forrest Gump.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

That’s easy! The absolute best part of teaching is the time I get to spend interacting with my students. There are so many different aspects to it — the educating, the listening, the mediating, the comforting (of a student who is “down”), the rejoicing (with students when they succeed), and (as often as possible) the entertaining. I love it when parts of a lesson generate laughter or such interest that you could hear the proverbial pin drop. Such classroom interactions are what lead to connections/relationships, and I am always humbled when a student reaches out to me many years after leaving my classroom. As I get older, and my memory wanes, I may forget names, but I won’t forget the people behind those names.

What is one piece of advice you would share with your students?

When trials and tribulations inevitably arise in your lives (whether due to a bad choice or due to something that came completely “out of left field”), resist the urge to panic! Once the initial shock wears off, get to work on facing it – no matter how ugly or scary it may appear. If the difficulty is due to your own bad decision, accept the consequence(s), do what you can to improve the situation, and do not (repeat, “do not”) look back! If the trial that came was completely out of your control, do your best to endure it. But never, never give up! As severe weather storms come and go in nature, the same is true with the “storms” in our personal lives. They pass. But here’s the best part: When handled correctly, and the difficulty has passed, you will find yourself a little stronger, a little braver, and a little more prepared when the next “storm” arrives.

What is your favorite quote and what does it mean to you?

Wow! Believe it or not, that’s a tough question! I have a rather large collection (books even) of inspirational quotes. I guess you could say I have “many favorites,” but here’s one: “Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to an extent, a gift. Good character, in contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it, piece by piece, by thought, choice, courage, and determination.”

We live in an overly complicated age — to the point that not everyone even agrees on what constitutes “good character.” Once upon a time, “good character” was associated with virtues (courage, honesty, hard work, and kindness, to name a few). Sadly, we don’t talk about these much anymore, which is a big reason why the world is such a sad mess. You only need to watch the news for 10 minutes to know what I’m talking about. Yet, there still exist people of “good character,” and we can immediately think of some in our lives who embody such traits. We’re naturally “drawn” to these people — especially in this day and age! They “brighten” our world, but they had to work very hard for many years to develop that good character. I am always most inspired by the students who may not always score the highest grades, but work diligently (even when it’s a struggle), “get up” when they “fail,” cooperate in class, and generally just “keep at it.” They are definitely on the path to the “good character” described in the quote. Our world desperately needs such children to grow into adults of noble character.

How and when did you know that teaching was what you wanted to do?

Well, my path to teaching was quite convoluted. As a 9th-grader, I was simply convinced I would one day become the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, my height topped out at 5-feet-7 and I was cut from my high school’s JV team. I figured if I couldn’t play in the NBA, I could at least cover it on ESPN. Once again, genetics provided a cruel blow in the form of my face being “made for print or radio,” so I used my journalism degree from Penn State to score a job as a sportswriter at the Pocono Record (you may have heard of it). That’s what brought my wife and me to the Poconos. It was a “pretty good gig” (I had the privilege of covering the historic Mounties boys’ hoops team that faced the late Kobe Bryant in the state playoffs). However, it proved unfulfilling and definitely ill-suited to “regular family hours.” I did a bit of “soul searching” and “advice-seeking,” and through this, realized that I always enjoyed working with and helping children (even as a child). I researched the teaching profession, liked what I saw, and enrolled at ESU to get my teaching certification, and the rest is history. Thankfully, the late Mike Romano was willing to give me a chance at Ramsey Elementary (a wonderful school!) so that I could hook on with the Pride of the Poconos. I haven’t looked back … and am very thankful that God provided the “detour” so that I could find my true calling.