Dr. Christopher Palladino is a Philadelphia native who has returned to his roots with a fervor for education. He joins Esperanza Academy Charter School as the Director of Teacher Development with an experienced and creative team of instructional coaches in his department. To him, education is so much more than a checklist of tasks endured in order to reach the end goal of accepting a job offer. Education should be and can be much deeper, richer, and transformative. He believes that there is a love of learning in all of us.
He says, “You’re a different person after the experience [of education]. You become someone who has convictions but is humble about them. You can self advocate and advocate for others. Pursue justice despite the risks. To love justice but also be merciful. To be kind to your neighbor no matter who your neighbor is. To realize your own potential, and that you have gifts and talents no matter where you are or where you have been born. Be inspired towards your potential and realize you may be interested in something you never thought you’d be interested in before.”
Dr. Palladino is a self-identified idealist, who is someone that sees things as they could be, not just as they are. “The power of education can be realized in learning skills that you don’t expect to like and being able to truly listen to people even those you disagree with. Learn to research, to pursue truth, even if it conflicts with what you already believe to be true. To have a culture, society and community that pursued that would be revolutionary.” He believes these transformational realizations are possible.
His career in education began in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he taught High School Social Studies and History for twelve years. During his time as a high school teacher, he was awarded Teacher of the Year by Lynchburg City and named Neighborhood Champion by Bank of America, which allowed him the unique opportunity to throw the first pitch for a single A baseball franchise, the Lynchburg Hillcats! However, his first years in teaching were not rosy-posy. He said, “I struggled as any young teacher does. The struggles were herculean. I questioned why I went into education because I felt like I was failing my students. By my third or fourth year, though, I had some success. Then my fourth year, I picked up the book, “End of Education,” by Neil Postman, and it gave me an existential crisis of questions that I couldn’t answer at the moment. I had to change why I was doing what I was doing. This radically altered the way I listened to and thought about my students. The aim should be to be a lifelong learner, to realize human possibilities and potential, to see their lives transformed and the lives of those around them.”
He went on to receive his Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at University of Virginia and his PhD in Modern World History from St. Johns. After receiving his M.Ed. he began speaking at education conferences throughout the United States and around the world including places like China, Korea, Austria, and Kenya. He spoke at ASI Africa, a conference with hundreds of teachers from all over Africa and the Middle East. His topics included conversation in the classroom, inquiry model, interdisciplinary studies, and more. Most recently, he served as the Chair of the History Department at Cairn University before joining Esperanza Academy.
His existential crisis in education has led to a depth of understanding in the field and a breadth of knowledge on best practices as a teacher. Esperanza Academy is enjoying having Dr. Palladino on their team to coach their teaching staff. Dr. Palladino relates instructional coaching to athletics. Teaching is a skill and having a coach is not for critique but for support. Collective wisdom always outweighs individual knowledge, and both he and the teachers are learning from each other and their students.
He and his team have also brought back the teacher education major at the high school! This program trains high school students in the field of education with the hopes of inspiring our own students to pursue the career path of being an educator. The students have had the chance to visit many universities and hear from a variety of speakers.
Mark Twain said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Esperanza Academy along with the help of Dr. Palladino, his team of instructional coaches, and our incredibly driven and talented staff, make school a place where education can flourish. Through a robust curriculum offering classes in diverse disciplines, students are encouraged to reach high not only in achieving a career that they love but also to gain a lifelong love of learning.