Meet Richard

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Richard is the eldest of three children, all born and raised in Wallingford, Connecticut. He graduated cum laude from Southern New Hampshire University, majoring in English Language and Literature with minors in Fine Arts, History, and Sociology and has his Masters of Art in Teaching English degree from the University of Southern California. Richard completed his SNHU and USC degrees online after returning to his alma mater, Lyman Hall High School, in 2004 as a teacher’s aide and athletic coach.When not in the classroom or on the athletic field you will typically find Richard online spreading his love of technology. He has loved exploring new technology since his first Nintendo at a young age and advocates for its use in the classroom. He will teach his first online course, Integrating New Media Literacies into the Classroom, at UCLA thanks to his experience with technology at USC.

Follow Richard on Twitter @cassella_

Why did you want to become a teacher?
Coaching was in my blood at a young age. At fourteen, I helped manage my brother’s travel baseball team and at twenty I became an assistant varsity baseball coach. I loved giving lessons, developing practice plans, and the in-game strategy of coaching baseball. Every situation in baseball is unique and offers new challenges each day, much like teaching young adults in a classroom.

Lyman Hall High School, my alma mater and my current employer, showed me why teaching was a wonderful profession. Working with the school’s special education students reminded me of how wonderful learning was. Each day, my students would come into school with an eagerness to learn unmatched by anything I have witnessed. My fellow teachers, many of whom were my teachers in high school, give Lyman Hall a special atmosphere that I hope to replicate wherever I teach.

My desire to teach English would develop during my first class at Southern New Hampshire University. Dr. Lawrence Kinsman, an English professor at SNHU, would help me find a love for literature and how to share this passion with others. His dynamic personality was popular with his students, many of whom still keep in touch with him today. We are now close friends and I am forever in his debt.

What is the most valuable learning experiences you are taking away from the program?
I had wonderful professors at USC, but I will always remember the consistent passion shown in my weekly sessions with Dr. Brandon Martinez, Dr. Michael Genzuk, and Dr. Carlos Cortez. They were excellent examples of how to be facilitators of education. Learning was a shared experience that allowed each student to lead discussions while the professors interjected expertise at appropriate times. I felt a sense of individual and communal ownership of the material that inspired me to use this approach in my own classroom.

What are your future teaching plans?
On graduation day my fiancee woke me with wonderful news. We were awarded apartment housing a block away from her medical school at NYU. I am now in the process of preparing to relocate, but I see this as a wonderful opportunity. My goal is to find an innovative, technology rich online and/or on-campus school to teach for that preferably serves high need communities. Eventually, I would love to establish an innovative charter school. For now, I am excited to teach my first online course at UCLA, Integrating New Media Literacies into the Classroom, because I will be able to share my passion for technology in education with current teachers.


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