Quentin Pappadakis

Detours and wrong turns are as much a part of life as they are in driving. For Quentin Pappadakis, the detours faced during his academic journey led him to some unexpected opportunities and new goals.

Originally, Quentin attended SBCC with an interest in Criminal Justice.  He hoped to become a member of the Binghamton Police Department and serve his community, honoring his late father who had been a State Trooper. But, his first year college experience did not go as well as planned. Being the second oldest of 7 siblings, and the first in his family to attend college, Quentin had some extra weight on his shoulders when he started.

After that first year in college, Quentin struggled to find his way.  Some of that time was spent homeless and “couch surfing” at friends’ houses to get by. Quentin remembers walking miles to work at different odd jobs without much inspiration, money, or a car until he came upon an opportunity to work at Broome-Tioga BOCES. This detour into working as a Teacher’s Aide, Monitor and Substitute not only opened Quentin’s eyes to working in a school but in making a real difference in children’s lives.

Quentin began to take additional opportunities: coaching wrestling for 1st – 6th grade students, and working with college-aged students during the summer who were part of the Upward Bound program at Binghamton University. One of the biggest lessons he was learning with all these teaching opportunities was the importance of building relationships.

Currently, Quentin works in the Johnson City Middle School as an Academic Counselor through the Liberty Partnership program. The Liberty Partnership provides academic, social and emotional support to students in grades 5-8 identified by the school as needing assistance.

Currently, Quentin works in the Johnson City Middle School as an Academic Counselor through the Liberty Partnership program.It is not lost on Quentin that he is one of the few males working in in these schools, sometimes the only male teacher students have ever had. But, he also sees the great need for strong male role models, especially to students who do not have such father figures at home. He knows first-hand what it is like to grow up without a Dad, and to seek those needed role models and he especially enjoys building those relationships with the kids in his classes.  Quentin sees the value of serving his community through his work with children.

Quentin recognizes his path into early education had some encouragement from special people along the way. He was inspired by his grandmother, Betty, a woman who loved to teach her grandchildren and the author of several of her own books.  He also fondly remembers his 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Mendelsohn, who instilled his love of history and connecting with students through stories of perseverance. Mr. Eudes Clark, the Assistant Principal at Binghamton H.S. was one of the father figures who made a big impact on Quentin as he entered the education field and inspired him in the way he builds strong connections with students.

But, one of the biggest inspirations for Quentin is his girlfriend, Alexis, who is also an elementary school teacher.  Alexis is someone he looks up to who helped motivate Quentin’s pursuit of a career in early education and returning to college. In the spring of 2021, Quentin came back to SUNY Broome with a fresh start. This time he returned with a new appreciation for teaching and the determination to be a good student.  And after making the President’s List, Quentin is now continuing his education at Binghamton University with plans to possibly become a Principal.

While there are only about 10.9% of males working in early education, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need to create a more gender-balanced environment in schools is especially important. Male teachers provide young children with a more balanced view and show them that all genders provide a critical role in their development and their own gender identity.

What makes a great teacher in Quentin’s eyes? Patience, consistency, compassion and love, showing his students that he’s not giving up on them. Working with children and being a part of their education was the biggest lesson learned and game-changer for Quentin. After learning all those hard lessons of his own, Quentin now has become the kind of role model who can make a lasting impact on the children in our community and his unexpected path into early education gave him work he truly appreciates.

To learn more about SUNY Broome’s Career and Technical Education Programs and about non-traditional career paths, visit: Non-traditional CTE Careers.

Submitted by: Susan Stracquadanio

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