Teacher Highlight: Dave Palen Builds Strong Relationships

Special Education high school teacher Dave Palen believes that trust is essential in the classroom, and as a longtime Winthrop resident, he finds benefits in knowing the relatives of his students.

“I love that I am still connected to my community in a unique way, and the relationships that I have formed through the years as part of this community help to create an understanding and trust in my classroom,” said Palen, who has been teaching at Winthrop High School for eight years. “It’s special when I know a student’s mom, dad, aunt, uncle, etc. from my own time growing up in Winthrop.”

After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Salem State University, Palen went on to obtain his master’s degree in education in Moderate Disabilities, Grades 5-12 from American International College.

What do you love about teaching              Special Education?

Teaching Special Education is an extremely rewarding experience. The nature of the position offers me the ability to collaborate with professionals in the district on many different levels, from Administration to General Education teachers to Adjustment Counselors to Guidance. In addition, I am able to form strong relationships with parents/guardians of the students that I teach. To be able to help to identify an area where a student may be in need of more assistance and then, collaboratively, develop a plan to help that student achieve their goals is something that I look forward to every day. I am able to form strong relationships with my students that go beyond academics and I love watching my students move on to post-secondary life and succeed at things they may have never thought possible.

What do you love about teaching in       Winthrop?

As someone who was born and raised in Winthrop and attended Winthrop schools, my favorite part of teaching in Winthrop is continuing to be a part of the community that helped shaped me, while giving back to the community at the same time. I cannot understate how important my Winthrop education was to the shaping of my adult life. My mother and my aunt were both Educational Support Personnel for WPS, and my cousin is also a Special Education teacher at the Fort Banks school.

Did anyone inspire you to become a teacher?

I was extremely blessed to have an incredible foundation of Winthrop educators that helped to shape and inspire me from a very early age. People like Andrea Lincoff, Sheila Cox, Bob Cuddi, Joe Grillo, Shelly Connolly, Mike Sullivan, Peter Grimes, Bernadette Carsley, Edna Gabriel, George Skane, Diane Porreca, Maria Roy, Ed Morrison, John Macero, and my absolute mentor and friend Neil Shapiro who truly helped to shape me. I have found that there are little pieces of all of these teachers that have influenced my daily teaching practice and I’m lucky enough to call a few of them co-workers to this day. Knowing how much these people helped me become the best version of me that I could be inspires me every day to try to pass that on to the next generation of Winthrop students

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