Sunday, June 17, 2018
Education

In Pasco County, a teacher of the year who 'won't give up until you understand'

WESLEY CHAPEL — Rob Patterson welcomed his Veterans Elementary School fifth graders back from gym class with a challenge.

The children had begun learning how to multiply with fractions recently, and he wanted to see what they remembered. So he told them to take out their white boards and write an equation for 10 groups of 1/2, then solve it.

"I don't know this," one boy complained.

"That's all right," Patterson responded, reminding the students that making mistakes is part of learning.

After a minute he asked everyone to hold up their work for all to see. He effused over one girl's responses.

"I love, love, love how Jillian wrote, 10/2 is the same as 5," he said, turning to see what others had done. Positivity breeds positivity, after all.

His enthusiasm captured the children's attention, and encouraged them to keep working. Everyone wanted to learn from Mr. Patterson, Pasco County's 2017 teacher of the year.

Patterson learned of his honor late Friday during a ceremony by the Pasco Education Foundation. Others to receive awards were Sharaya Janes, a resource management associate at Gulf High (School-Related Employee of the Year); Rebecca Musselman, a supervisor in the Office for Technology and Information Services (Administrator of the Year); and Jenatte Smith, a child care site manager at Mary Giella Elementary (Nonbargaining Employee of the Year).

Just eight years ago, Patterson, 46, wasn't even a teacher.

A golf pro by profession, he was traveling the state as a service representative for a company that manufactures coin-handling equipment. He took that job to make money for his family.

But on the road, "I realized what I missed."

He wanted to spend more time with his own kids, and also to work with other children, as he had done while teaching them to play golf. So he headed back to college — "The kids were like half my age," he recalled — and became a teacher.

Patterson targeted elementary school to give youngsters a positive male role model in a setting where few exist. And he picked fifth grade to provide that one final boost before the kids' transition into middle school.

"I truly think this is the job that is meant for me," he said.

His coworkers shared that view.

"I tell everyone Mr. P has that It Factor," said Kelly Faysash, a fifth-grade language arts teacher who shares students with him. "He's so involved in students' lives. He really loves his students, more than I've ever seen any other teacher. … He's hard on them, and he expects a lot of them. But in turn, they love him."

That's clear by the way they clamor for his attention in class. And by the way he has to pick their names from a cup to answer questions just so no one thinks he's playing favorites. And by the way they talk about him.

"He's good," said Gabe Sargent, 10, after getting some insights on the fraction multiplication problem. "If you're having trouble he will help you. He will go through the problem with you. He won't tell you the answer, but he will go through it so you understand it better."

"He won't give up until you understand," chimed in Katya La Costa, 10, sitting nearby. "He just tells us to try hard. Sometimes, you don't get it. But he says you can't learn unless you fail. That's what motivates me to do better."

Nick Luppino, also 10, said Patterson is "super, super fun" and "awesome."

"I've been in this school for six years," Nick said. "He's my No. 1 teacher."

Ever humble, Patterson demurred such accolades.

"There are so many great teachers in our county," he said. "I learn constantly from my own team and … from my fellow colleagues at school. We're part of a well-oiled machine. If we do what we're supposed to do, any teacher could be a teacher of the year finalist."

As county teacher of the year, Patterson becomes eligible for the state and national honors. Last year, Marchman Technical College electricity instructor Don Blake became Pasco's first county teacher of the year to be state finalist.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at (813) 909-4614 or [email protected] Follow @jeffsolochek.

Comments
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

TAMPA — Money that the Hillsborough County School District needs to build schools and replace air conditioners might be farther from reach, thanks to a new state law and a bureaucratic process required before the voters can decide on a tax referendum...
Published: 06/14/18
University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

The University of Chicago will no longer require ACT or SAT scores from U.S. students, sending a jolt through elite institutions of higher education as it becomes the first top-10 research university to join the test-optional movement.Numerous school...
Published: 06/14/18
Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano presented to the School Board Tuesday nearly $53 million worth of budget priorities, asking them to choose which will be funded in the upcoming school year.The board voted 3-2 later Tue...
Published: 06/13/18
UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

The University of Tampa’s MFA program will host the June 2018 Residency Visiting Writers Lectores Series that runs from now until June 21 on the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center, 401 W Kennedy Blvd. Each reading will be held at 7:30 p.m.Each January ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano will step down at the end of this month following a 3-2 vote by the School Board to terminate its contract with her amid increasing concerns about her ability to lead.Romano has suffere...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

NEW PORT RICHEY — The dozen Fivay High school students and their administrators arrived at the Pasco County school district’s annual Together We Stand conference with a clear goal in mind.With hundreds of former Ridgewood High students arriving in th...
Published: 06/12/18
Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

BROOKSVILLE — Historic Camp Perry is where it’s at. Located near Clinton, Ohio, the National Guard training facility is where the nation’s top shooters go to compete.Next week, some of Hernando County’s top shooters compete there in the Civilian Mark...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/14/18
An ambitious new goal for Hillsborough schools: Every child up to speed on reading by third grade

An ambitious new goal for Hillsborough schools: Every child up to speed on reading by third grade

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins has an ambitious new goal. He wants more students to be proficient in reading."I think it is the code to crack," Eakins said in an interview. He also told the School Board on Tuesday that ...
Published: 06/08/18