011620_lns_currented-mainland Current Ed 011320 Photo credit Mark Marrone

Mainland Regional High School’s Educator of the Year, Mr. Christopher Connolly, and its Educational Services Professional of the Year, Mr. Patrick Dioguardo

Happy New Year Mustang Nation,

We are excited to announce and recognize the High School’s Educator of the Year, Mr. Christopher Connolly, and our Educational Services Professional of the Year, Mr. Patrick Dioguardo. As you will see by these excerpts from the many nominations we received from faculty, administrators, students and community members, both Mr. Connolly and Mr. Dioguardo are an integral part of Mainland Regional High School as educators, coaches, and role models to our students. Kudos gentleman!

Mr. Christopher Connolly has taught social studies at the high school for 21 years, in addition to being a coach and member of union leadership. In the words of the 2011-2012 County Teacher of the Year Ms. Bernadette Daley, Mr. Connolly deserves “Educator of the Year” recognition “because he is always doing the right thing for the school, the community and the students. He repeatedly works with students in need, both in and outside of the classroom. His efforts in the classroom to challenge students to be better academically, to find the value in education and to be better humans is exhausting to watch! Yet day in and day out, he puts in tremendous effort to make the course material relatable to the students and fun. He is always researching to find new methods to help the students learn, reading literature to become a better teacher and coach. This past year, Mainland girls’ soccer was without a coach. No one could meet the requirements. This teacher was asked to help the program and coach — even if for one year. He agreed despite family health struggles and the strain it would put on him personally. He put others before himself and his needs — which is something he works hard to communicate with his students. It is not just athletics where this teacher has left his mark. Throughout the years, he has been asked to try something new, to test things out, to communicate his findings to the staff and to lead. He always is a "TEAM" player and does whatever is asked of him.”

Students also have high praise for Mr. Connolly. As one student wrote, “Mr. Connolly has always been my favorite teacher. He made learning fun for me, and I look forward to his class. He goes out of his way to connect to us and help us better understand the material. If I didn't have Mr. Connolly as a teacher, I feel that I would not have had much success in history class. Mr. Connolly helped me better my academic habits and pushed me to always give my best!” Another student wrote, “Although I never had Mr. Connolly as a teacher, I was very fortunate to have him as my soccer coach this past season. If I wasn't happy with my game or how I was playing, there wasn't a time that I didn't look to Coach Connolly for advice. I struggled with overthinking on the soccer field and he constantly encouraged me to keep going. Coach Connolly was not only supportive of everyone on the team, but he made sure to make us all feel happy and welcome. This year we broke a school record as the first team ever to make it to the finals simply because of his positivity and dedication to our success. Coach Connolly not only had an optimistic impact on me, but I'm sure I can speak for the rest of the team's positive experience as well.” And finally, “Mr. Connolly deserves to be nominated for teacher of the year. He pushes his students to do better, he expects us to do better ... . What a good teacher he is.”

Mr. Patrick Dioguardo has been the athletic trainer at Mainland Regional for 30 years. As Mainland Regional teacher and head coach, Mr. Mike Colombo wrote, “Pat works with all of our injured athletes, he is always positive, kind and eager to help them heal. The kids like being around him and trust him. He is a hard worker who flies below the radar and deserves this recognition.” Athletic director Michael Gatley wrote, “Mr. Dioguardo's diagnostic, professional and personal characteristics are in the top 99% of any person I have ever supervised. He has the rare ability to communicate to any student, faculty or staff member in the most pleasant and accurate manner. Pat never seeks accolades, that is why this recommendation is way overdue.” Former coach and current teacher of physical education Cynthia Anderson described Mr. Dioguardo as, “a professional in all that he does and goes out of his way to help the student-athletes. Pat stays current with therapy techniques and helps sports teams design warm-ups and drills specific to their sport to improve performance. Pat also runs a club at school and comes in during the unit lunch period to meet with the students. He is a patient, kind, generous, and caring individual. If you need someone to talk to or to ask a question, you can turn to Pat. The students feel comfort in knowing he is someone who will not only fix their bones and tendons, but someone for them to talk to as well.”

And as athletic site supervisor, teacher, coach and club adviser, Elizabeth Feld said so well, “Pat is the unsung hero of the entire athletic department at Mainland! Not only does he continue to be the best athletic trainer, but he is also the most invested! When he's done tending to the needs of the countless athletes in any given day, he continuously stays on top of scores, rankings, players, and opponents of EVERY sport happening at Mainland. He has built a positive and strong rapport with ALL of the athletes at Mainland Regional and has become more than an athletic trainer. Pat is as dedicated as they come and deserves to be recognized for the time and energy that he has invested into his career at Mainland!”

Congratulations and continued educational success to Mr. Connolly and Mr. Dioguardo from your Mustang family!

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