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‘Journey’ can Inspire New Generation of Educators

09-10-2007

As students head back to school, one veteran Waterloo teacher is marking the start of his final year in the classroom with the release of a book he hopes will help new generations of educators. John Fioravanti, who has taught in Waterloo region schools for 34 years, will officially launch A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching, on Thursday, September 13 at 7:00 p.m. in the St. David Catholic Secondary School Library.

Published by Waterloo-based Iceberg Publishing, Journey is Fioravanti’s second non-fiction book related to education, and it frankly explores what it is like to take on the responsibilities of a teacher. Relying on his more than three decades of experience, he offers a moving and honest assessment of the challenges faced by those who stand at the front of classrooms, and of the lessons that can be learned from the students themselves.

“There have been many changes during my years in the classroom, some of which were very difficult,” Fioravanti says. “No matter what the external pressures though, no matter what’s happening policy-wise, funding-wise, curriculum-wise, or in your own life, the teacher’s first responsibility is to the students. We must focus first and foremost on making the experience in the classroom the best one it can be.”

Fioravanti’s first non-fiction book, Getting it Right in History Class, (published by Data Based Directions in 2002), is a guide designed to help students understand and improve their formal essay writing skills. Fioravanti admits that writing Journey was a very different experience.

“When writing a personal story, you force yourself to recall things long forgotten, and to relive experiences that were in some cases heart-wrenching,” he says. “But ultimately, writing the book was very rewarding, and if reading about my journey helps other teachers, then it’s well worth the effort, and the soul-searching.”

“I love being a teacher,” Fioravanti continues. “The responsibility can be scary at times, and it’s taken me more than 30 years to really understand what I now describe as the ‘heart’ of teaching. As I prepare to leave the profession to younger and fresher faces, I hope my reflections will help others find that ‘heart’ more easily than I did.”

Iceberg Publishing Partner Kenneth Tam was one of Fioravanti’s students, and he is certain that his former teacher’s experiences need to be passed on to the next generation. “John is always passionate about what he teaches, but more importantly, he always respects his students. I benefited greatly from his mentorship over my years at St. David, and now it’s a real privilege to work with him in this new capacity.”

Tam will serve as the MC for the launch of Fioravanti’s book. The event is open to the public –– everyone is welcome to attend.