Wednesday, February 15, 2017

7 Questions with Tony DiSario, Social Studies Teacher on Special Assignment

Anthony “Tony” DiSario, M. Ed., graduated from the University of Florida with professional specializations in Elementary Education and American History. With the exception of three years teaching at Georgia State University, Mr. DiSario has spent the better part of twenty years providing engaging learning opportunities for elementary students. Currently, Mr. DiSario supports Elementary Social Studies instruction in the twenty-eight elementary schools in Henry County, Georgia as the Elementary Social Studies Teacher on Special Assignment. When not teaching, Mr. DiSario coaches wrestling and enjoys watching his son and daughter compete in athletics. Mr. DiSario can be seen traveling from school-to-school on his deep orange, Harley Davidson Road King CVO, lovingly nicknamed, “Betsy.”
1. How and/or when did you get you hooked on history?
I took two courses in high school that really hooked me on history. The first was called POD – Problems of Democracy. I had a really engaging teacher who was great at telling stories and at pointing out the difference between myths and probable facts. Then, I took one of the most incredible courses in my career. It was simply titled, Humanities. Three teachers taught three classes of kids at the same time in a large room. One teacher was a history teacher, one a Language Arts teacher and the third was an Art teacher. Between the three of them, we looked at the multi-faceted components of our history. It was a truly integrated course, the likes of which I have never seen again.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?
This question would require a whole book of my personal history to answer fully. Instead, I’ll respond in unrelated bullets:
  • I keep ordinary documents. Movie stubs. Check stubs. Love notes from 5th grade.
  • I can argue with people on Facebook.
  • I don’t freak out when I watch the news. Historians can always point to a previous time that was worse.
  • I am cynical. I want to see the evidence before I take a side or agree with an opinion.
  • I rarely believe in conspiracy theories.

3. How is/How was history a part of your professional life/career?
I “Do History” every single day. I am charged with finding new and better ways to help learners to seek out their own answers to their own questions about history.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?
Studying and knowing history leads to freedom. Personal historical “perspectives” are spewed in all sorts of media. Knowing history gives the historian the ability to question those, typically baseless, perspectives. Understanding history gives one the power to seek the truth. To me, the ability to question and seek the truth define freedom.

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?
The part when the aliens came and the President of the United States and a scientist saved the world. I guess, knowing that’s why we celebrate Independence Day, is my favorite part.

6. What does your job as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) entail?
Specifically, my job is to assist the Social Studies Coordinator in supporting our twenty-eight elementary schools in Social Studies instruction. The focus of my daily work is on professional development, but I deal with all areas related to Social Studies in the elementary schools including, materials, technology, and instructional design.

7. What are some high points and low points of being a social studies TOSA?

I love my job. I literally get to work with history every single day. I get to learn more everyday about history education and I get to do my favorite thing in the world – help other people. I love traveling to see and learn new instructional strategies and to hear new perspectives on history. I love working on new materials and strategies that will excite teachers and their students about history. Unfortunately, the tradeoff is that I don’t get to have my own students any longer. Not hearing, “Mr. D.! Mr. D.!” in the hallways hurts my heart.

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