Mr. Andrew Capretto, second from left, is my daughter’s middle school gifted education teacher. This picture was taken at the Pennsylvania Future Problem Solving Program in Harrisburg this April when their team won 3rd place in their division in State wide competition. The smile on Mr. Capretto’s face, and the smiles on the faces of the 4 students who just earned this honor, is priceless.
Middle school can be hard to navigate. We all remember the awkward year or two spent in middle school between the ages of 11 and 14, depending on your school. No matter how ‘popular’ or ‘unpopular’ you may or may not have been, or wanted to be, if you are honest, those were days of discovering self and finding where you belonged. Students who are ‘different’ in any capacity stick out like a sore thumb. Good, bad or otherwise, this is the life of a middle schooler. The students at PHMS who are blessed to be considered ‘gifted’, often times carry a burden that is unique to that type of individual. Without generalizing, some gifted kids feel, and studies agree, they are compromised in cultivating friendships among their age peers. Enter Mr. Capretto…
In the gifted program Mr. Capretto has truly given these students a place to call their own. A safe zone where they can be themselves, make friends with like-minded peers, and strive for academic achievement beyond what they even thought possible without ‘cut-throat’ competition. A place where being smart, even ‘nerdy’ is cool. In his classroom ideas are shared, collaboration is encouraged, respect is expected, projects succeed and fail all with equal fanfare because learning is afoot.
I have tremendous respect for Mr. Capretto. A mentor, coach, partner, and by default, a teacher because he is as excited about these kids, their futures, and helping them prepare for great expectations. It’s written all over his face in this picture, just look at the fun he’s having with his students!