Joey Spadafore: Traveler and Teacher

Joey Spadafore: Traveler and Teacher

Sam Noonan, Staff Writer

Many students imagine teachers to be grouchy and strict; but that’s often not the case, especially with Biology and APES teacher Joey Spadafore. He’s a young teacher, full of spirit and a passion to teach, with a laid-back demeanor and the ability to make any high school student feel comfortable and willing to learn. He’s someone with a passion for traveling and photography, with plenty of unique stories to tell. Most importantly, he’s a teacher who is following in his mother’s footsteps and doing what he believes should be done.

“My mom is a teacher, and she teaches science as well, so I grew up with that,” Spadafore said. “I’ve always had an interest in how things work, and how the world works, so science has kind of enabled me to [teach others that.]”

As a teacher seemingly fresh out of college, Spadafore teaches with the mindset he deems most important – helping kids understand our world. As a very young teacher, kids feel like they are able to relate with him more, and feel more comfortable being taught by him; this is apparent in his students, some of whom he taught as he completed his student teaching at FHC.

“I teach APES [and Biology.] I have a minor in Biology and I did my student teaching [in the room I have now,] and I taught Biology,” Spadafore said. “When that teacher retired, I was hired in.”

Spadafore went to college at Grand Valley, majoring in Earth Science and with a minor in Biology. He formed a tight bond with his professors, and went through a couple of class changes after discovering geology. Spadafore started out college as a biotechnology major, and wanted to do research in things like genetics. However, he fell in love with geology after taking it to meet class requirements, and reversed his major and minor.

“We went on field trips, and I feel like I really [took an interest in geology,]” Spadafore said.

Following his student teaching, Spadafore moved into room 238. Tucked away upstairs, Spadafore’s room reflects his personality, and is a breath of fresh air from the usual cheesy motivational posters. His photography is displayed all across the room, decorating the walls with beautiful landscapes and splashes of color. These pictures tell stories of lands abroad, something Spadafore is deeply intrigued by.

“I took a photojournalism class in high school, and one of my really good friends from hockey was really into photography, and he really kind of talked me into taking that class with him. I had no interest in [photography] before, but I think it really was that photojournalism class that sparked something.”

After this love of photography was sparked, Spadafore found he enjoyed just snapping pictures of whatever interested him. He says that after he would take a picture, his photos would always seem to gain more attention than anybody else’s, which further drove him to love photography.

Spadafore has enjoyed traveling since his childhood, mainly due to his parents taking him to national parks during his childhood. He has since traveled overseas to Europe and more, and his passions for photography and traveling both accent each other perfectly.

“If you picked out a place in the United States besides Hawaii and Alaska, I’ve probably spent some time there. I’ve done some trips to Canada, I’ve been to the west and east coast of Canada, and I’ve been to Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic,” Spadafore said. “This past summer I spent about 3 weeks in Switzerland, 2 weeks in Iceland, and a weekend in Spain.”

Photography and traveling go hand in hand, and Spadafore knows this well. He is one who can appreciate a beautiful landscape, and he loves the Pacific Northwest, more specifically Seattle and Mount Rainier. His favorite place internationally is Iceland, a trip he had had on his bucket list for a while before visiting.

“Having that opportunity to go to a different country and see how things are so different, and see these landscapes that I’ve never seen before, took my photography, the new passion that I had, and this traveling thing, and merged the two together.”

Spadafore is a truly unique teacher who teaches in a special way that students love. He’s young and has a future ahead of him with teaching, and he’s doing just what his mom is, educating kids and helping them love learning.

“I think it’s important for people to understand the world that we live in, and that [was] my biggest driving factor for why I wanted to become a teacher,” Spadafore said.