LIVINGSTON, NJ - Paul Raiz, Biology teacher and Head Coach of the Girls Soccer team at Livingston High School (LHS), has recently been selected by a committee of administrators and supervisors as LHS’s "Teacher of the Year."
“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Raiz in an interview with thealternativepress.com. “It’s a little embarrassing, actually. You don’t go into teaching to try and earn accolades or awards. You just try to be a professional, care about the kids, work hard to be the best that you can be; and to get an honor like this, especially from my peers, it’s pretty amazing.”
Raiz, who grew up in Mahwah, NJ, and received his MAT from Boston University, said that he hopes his students gain more than just an understanding of Biology from his lessons. “I love Science and Biology. I want to teach my students science, but I want them to become lifelong learners as well. A big part is helping them to mature. Helping them to not only learn, but to want to learn.”
Brian Carey, Science Chair and Director of Science and Research at Livingston High School, said that Raiz’s desire to help his students learn is part of what makes him such an effective teacher. “He’s Outstanding. Regardless of the level, he has a real knack for getting to know his students, getting to know what their needs are and designing instruction and activities to meet their needs.”
Carey added that Raiz is very reflective of his work. “He’s the type of teacher who when he creates something, even for an ordinary class, after class he’s constantly thinking on how things went and what he can do to improve on instruction.”
Raiz agreed that reflection is a big part of his work and said he feels that it is imperative method of self-improvement that all teaches must engage in. “You like to think you know it all,” said Raiz, “but you don’t. [Teaching is] absolutely a profession where you learn on the fly. There are so many great and wonderful resources in terms of people you work with. Once you get to the point where you realize that it’s not a competition, you realize how much they have to offer you. That’s really a great place to be. You have to look at your work and look for ways you can improve upon it.”
Although the effort and planning that Raiz puts into his work in the classroom may be rigorous, what he ultimately hopes to achieve with his teaching is quite simple. “My hope is that I make my classes interesting, fair and that I help my students to learn and grow as a student and as a member of society. If I help teach them, guide them, or even just entertain them for however many years I teach them—that’s a pretty neat accomplishment.”
In addition being named Teacher of the Year, Raiz was also selected as The Star Ledger’s Essex "County Coach of the Year" for his efforts in coaching the girls’ soccer team to a North One Group Four Sectional Championship this past season. The soccer field may be different from the classroom in many ways, but Raiz said he carries the same teaching philosophy to his coaching duties.
“Coaching is another way to prepare students for their lives,” said Raiz. “Sports, or any extra-curricular activity, are really important aspects of a kid’s life. There is so much that they can learn from sports--responsibly team work, time management, dealing with success and failure.”
Raiz also said that his Coach of the Year honor is very much an honor that is shared by his players. “If they don’t play well, I don’t look good. I love the kids from Livingston. They work hard for you, they’re friendly, they’re caring, and the [girls] I coach are no different.”
Raiz may not have embarked on a career in teaching to gain personal accolades, but his peers at LHS feel his exemplary efforts are worthy of exactly that. Raiz is head of the LEA Actions Committee, a member of the LEA Negotiations Committee and a member of the district's School Improvement Committee.