LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Joseph Malfara

Position: English 3 / AP Language Teacher
School: Poinciana High School
School District: School District of Osceola
City, State: Kissimmee, FL

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Joseph Malfara was nominated by his principal, Jeffrey Schwartz.

In working with a challenging demographic like that exists at PHS, teachers must possess dynamic pedagogy, be able to respond to diversity, and be reflective and courageous in continuously working to improve practices. Mr. Malfara embodies these positive attributes, and his implementation of best instructional practices results in student learning gains. His tireless commitment to his students, along with the positive relationships built with both staff and students, makes him a tremendous asset and outright blessing to have at PHS.

Although relatively early in his teaching career, Mr. Malfara possess a dynamic instructional pedagogy. What's most impressive about his development as a master teacher is his willingness to continuously improve. He has made tremendous growth in a very short time as a teacher hungry for more research on best practices.

"He has absorbed the training and support of all of our coaches and teacher leaders. More importantly, he has the courage to implement the research-based best practices and the maturity to reflect upon how to do it better next time," said Schwartz.

One specific example is his commitment to the school-wide deliberate practice of collaborative structures. Mr. Malfara implemented a dynamic learning activity in which students had specific roles of increasing rigor in essay evaluations that held all students accountable for both supporting the learning of each other and displaying evidence of learning. The activity was so effective that it was chosen as a model for one of the school's AVID Strategy Walks, and it is documented on their web site for other teachers to see and replicate.

When it comes to influencing people in a positive way, Mr. Malfara is a true leader among his colleagues. Not only does he open his classroom to share best practices with his peers, but he has volunteered to serve on a Continuous Improvement Team at the school to collaborate with leadership and use positive peer pressure to affect change. Mr. Malfara has embraced the diversity of his students and built relationships through commitment and dynamic instruction that have yielded positive results. Whether being the “Voice of the Eagles” by announcing at athletic events or participating in student versus staff basketball events, all students know and love Mr. Malfara. More importantly, they know he cares about their learning through the interactions he has with students constantly in his student-centered classroom.

Mr. Malfara is a Teacher of the Year of which all students, staff, and parents in the greater Poinciana High School community can be proud. His genuine concern for student learning and development, tireless commitment to his colleagues and students, and willingness and courage to continuously improve his instruction make him a worthy candidate for further recognition.

"Anyone who has had an encounter with Joe feels blessed to have been in his presence. We appreciate him as our Poinciana High School Teacher of the Year for all that he does to make those around him better. This is the true sign of a gifted teacher, and downright great man," said Schwartz.