Earlier this year, Xavier asked alumni to reflect on the following question: Who was your most influential teacher at Xavier, and why? We are grateful to share their responses below.
Dr. Tom Draper ’44: Fr. Raymond Gibson, S.J., who was my teacher in 1B. He helped me discover who I was as a person and how one could live a meaningful life. He manifested the vibrancy of faith in God and faith in our nation. He demonstrated the bond of love and loyalty between teacher and student.
John Kapp ’48: Fr. Justin McCarthy, S.J.––a local guy from Greenwich Village who convinced us that Latin was important (along with Xavier basketball and football)! Also, Fr. Ricardo Fernandez, S.J. and Fr. Tom Matthews, S.J.
Louis Parker ’50: I can't select any one teacher. They were all impressive.
William Shea ’51: I cannot narrow the number to one. They all played their part to help me to graduate in three and a half years.
Fr. Jack Replogle, S.J. ’51: Fr. Vincent Taylor––a wonderful teacher and person.
Thomas Conniff ’52: Many teachers influenced me but I admired Fr. Al Bartlett, S.J. Like most Jesuit scholastics at the time, he was a caring teacher. You knew he wanted you to succeed and that was helpful in a strict environment.
Dan Cuoco ’55: Fr. John Jones, S.J.
James O’Connell ’55: Fr. Richard Doyle, S.J.––a scholastic during my years at Xavier. He was a great role model for me due to his low-key, effective commitment to his faith and to the Jesuit values that he lived and practiced daily.
Edward Wolek ’55: Fr. Charles Lehmkuhl, S.J. , by far. As prefect of discipline, he invoked both fear and respect from everyone! Yet, as moderator of the Rifle Team, I saw a confident man who was almost a father to us all. I still seek to emulate him!
John Casko ’56: Leo Paquin had the greatest influence on me during my time at Xavier. It is hard to appreciate someone who achieved athletic excellence as a member of Fordham University's Seven Blocks of Granite and also had the academic background to teach Latin and English. He was an outstanding football coach and, by his example, made it clear that there was no contradiction between athletic and academic excellence. He was an excellent role model and I know he cared about me. I am deeply indebted to him.
Louis Cumming ’56: Fr. James Kelly, S.J., our sophomore Latin teacher. He worked us hard and gave us a pop quiz in every class which had to be completed in ink––no pencils. Use a pencil and you achieved a big goose egg for a score even if all your answers were correct. By the end of the school year, we knew our Latin cold! At the time I was a dedicated swimmer, but Xavier had no swim team, so my dad worked with Fr. Ric Fernandez, who was on staff at the time (and who had dated my mother in the 1930s when she attended St. Angela Hall, an all-girls academy) and together, they put the swim team into existence in my sophomore year. It was an officially recognized athletic endeavor in my junior year–when varsity letters could be awarded to all swimmers participating in that sport's official season. Since Xavier had no on-site pool, we practiced at a public high school, which was about four blocks away from Xavier. I remember a fellow student, Pete Foley, joining the team, which became a springboard (pun intended) for his outstanding diving skills that brought him many accolades during his time on 16th Street.
Frank Perroni ’56: Possibly Fr. Daniel Carey, S.J., who taught freshman Latin. Without his drive to convince us that we "could learn Latin," there would not have been a second, third, or fourth year at Xavier, since at that time, it was an essential subject to pass on.
Brigadier General Randy Cubero, USAF (Ret) ’57: No question it was Mr. Leo Paquin, my English teacher and also my high school football coach. I still remember being mesmerized in his class by the reading and discussion of the epic poem, Sohrab and Rustum by Matthew Arnold.
George Wenz ’57: The clergy and laity who taught us are all so much a part of my soul and psyche that I am at a stand in answering the question. When I start naming names and reasons, each attempt evokes more, until I realize there is no end.
Bruce McDonald, M.D. ’58: Fr. Daniel Carey, S.J. was my homeroom, Latin, and religion teacher. Thus in freshman year, I spent more time in his classes than any other teacher. He was warm and caring. He helped 30 thirteen-year-old adolescents become comfortable in these new surroundings. He was an excellent teacher and a caring individual. Sergeant Michael Rand, USA was a very caring man and I enjoyed his military science classes. His loss a few years later was a sad day.
Dan Rodriguez ’58: Fr. John Yates, S.J. was instrumental in teaching me the arts, particularly creative writing as a major communications tool that I extensively used in my architectural practice. We were always allowed a great degree of latitude and discussion license in his classes, for which I am eternally grateful.
William Smith ’58: Fr. Thomas Matthews, S.J. He taught freshman Latin. He established in me a method of studying and was always there if you had any questions or problems.
Bob Vecchiotti ’58: I have two teachers who taught me a lot about life and education: Mr. Mike O'Donnell and Fr. Ed McMahon, S.J. Mike would have those who failed a test “get up in line” and face their classmates. I responded by never wanting to face my classmates again. Fr. McMahon taught us life lessons. When walking with him in Sheridan Square one day, a fighter blessed himself before fighting. I asked Fr. McMahon if that would help and he replied, “Only if he can fight!”
William Fagan ’59: Sergeant Mike Rand. He treated us and addressed us like men…not high school kids. And he expected us to act like and to be responsible men.
Jim Riordan ’59: The Jesuits had a major influence on my whole life, but the teacher who most helped shape my professional interests was geometry teacher Everett Higgins. Recognizing that I was good at math, just before Easter vacation in 1957, he challenged me to solve an extremely difficult geometry problem during my time off. He bet $5.00––a lot of money then––that I couldn't do it. He knew that was exactly the kind of challenge a young man like me couldn't resist. As a result, I spent almost all the week off to come up with the answer. Some vacation! To this day I am very grateful to Mr. Higgins for taking the time (and for spending his own money!) to challenge me like that. That experience only whetted my appetite for math more––both in college and in my professional career.
Edward Whalen ’59: There were three most influential teachers. Mr. “Big Jim“ Nash was my junior year math teacher and taught me how to love trigonometry. His encouragement and teaching ability enabled me to love the subject and continue with it in college and graduate school. Fr. Dave Driscoll, S.J. was my senior year English teacher and really made the subject come alive. As an aside, I recently communicated with him. He lives on the eastern shore of Maryland with his wife. And finally, there was an unnamed freshman math teacher, who was a less positive experience (I failed the freshman algebra exam) but taught me many things about teaching that I later brought to my own classroom.
Bob Scavullo ’60: Fr. Schuyler Brown, S.J. did his regency at Xavier. For three years he attempted to teach me Latin and Greek. I had a hard time coming up to the mark in Schuyler’s class. I remember translating 30 lines a night, every night, and the “take out a half sheet of paper” daily quizzes. I still wake up from an anxious dream wondering if I will pass Greek this marking period. However, by the end of senior year, I was pleasantly surprised I could translate with some easy lines from the Aeneid and the Odyssey. It took me about 10 more years to appreciate the life lesson Schuyler had taught me. Proficiency in any endeavor is not achieved overnight. It requires constant application over a long period to master and, perhaps, excel in a field. About 40 years ago I reconnected with Schuyler and thanked him for the life lesson I learned in his class. We saw each other every couple of years until he died in August 2021.
John T. Bradt ’61: Leo Paquin and Fr. Joseph Watson, S.J., who did the following. On the morning of a snowstorm that blanketed 15th Street without one footprint, I made my way through the back door, as I realized that I did not get the message that school was called off. As usual, I made my visit to the Student Chapel and ran into Fr. Watson who taught my most difficult subject: physics. I asked if he could help me with some problems, and he generously spent three hours answering my questions, simplifying complicated concepts, and encouraging me to "hang in there." His spontaneous response, inexhaustible patience, and ability to help influenced my life personally and professionally.
William LaRosa ’61: John Delaney. He taught me how to ask the right question.
Frederic Salerno ’61: Leo Paquin, my freshman Latin teacher. He had the patience to take a student who wasn’t interested in the subject and make him hungry to learn more.
Philip Ambrosini ’62: As someone who went on to a long-time career as a statistician, I would have to say that all my math teachers fall into this category. From the legendary Mr. O'Donnell to Mr. Collins, to Mr. Nash and Mr. Thompson, all were competent, knowledgeable, and proficient instructors. In my junior year, I was thinking about a major in engineering. Then in my senior year, I took the advanced math class taught by Mr. Thompson. One of the topics that we studied was a brief intro to probability. I was hooked. I went on to major in mathematics as an undergraduate and did my graduate work in the area of mathematical statistics. For me, it was the best path I could travel and I am grateful to all these great teachers for providing me with a solid foundation.
Hubert Cloke ’62: Most of them.
Rocco Iacovone ’62: I have to go with three! Mr. Joseph Caruso, Mr. John Delaney, and Mr. Joseph Rafter. They all brought a bit of humor and life lessons to the classroom. Mr. Rafter was an expert in reciting Shakespeare and producing plays, while Mr. Caruso was the driving force behind the Glee club.
Ken Padgett ’62: Fr. Frederick Harreiss, S.J. was a native-born German. Rumor had it that during the early days of World War II he had been "asked" to leave Germany. Apparently, he had a physical altercation with an SS officer who had made negative remarks about the crucifix in the classroom. Fr. Harreiss was an excellent teacher who not only taught us the German language but also educated us in German culture. Several of my classmates had asked him to be their confessor. However, he declined because he believed he would be returning to Germany.
Hank Cardarelli ’63: I can't think of just one teacher. But most did have a very positive impact on my maturing to adulthood.
William Porter ’63: Many were great––Fr. Vincent Taylor, Mr. John Finnegan, and Mr. Michael O’Donnell among the most memorable, but probably most influential was the Jesuit scholastic who was our sophomore English, Latin, and religion teacher, Mr. (later Fr.) Dan Fitzpatrick. He attended movies with us (Lawrence of Arabia), as well as Broadway shows (A Man for All Seasons), our senior retreat at Gonzaga, and later married many of us and baptized our children. How lucky we are to still have him with us, joining a group of us regularly to share good food and happy memories. Deo Gratias (thanks to God)!
Jack Molinelli ’64: Fr. Robert Lynch, S.J. who taught physics and was a mentor for the Science Club. He always challenged us to “think things through.”
Bill Murray ’64: Then-scholastics Daniel Fitzpatrick and Fr. Anthony Aracich, S.J. were hard-driving but inspiring. Guidance counselor Fr. Thomas Connolly, S.J. was a calming influence. Fr. Joseph Spellerberg, S.J. was a model individual. Fr. Frederick Harreiss, S.J. held a great Christmas party. And Joseph Caruso was our Glee Club moderator. Many thanks are due to Fr. Joseph Latella, S.J., who championed the Alumni Society. Some might remember Fr. Russo Alessi for running the Catholic Medical Mission Board and supplying pharmaceuticals to needy people.
Jon Thompson ’64: Fr. Anthony Aracich, S.J. He taught me German during my junior and senior years, and the story of his background starting in Dalmatia to his becoming a Jesuit with all of the language skills he had amazes me even today. He was such a good teacher that when I took German for two years in college, I didn't really have to work that hard at it. He was wonderful and I hope he is resting in the most blessed of peace.
Kenneth Perkins ’64: There were many, but I would like specifically to acknowledge, however belatedly, the profound influence the following members of the Xavier faculty between 1960 and 1964 had on me professionally and personally: James Scott, Richard Mannion, Fr. Joe Latella, S.J., Fr. Robert Mahoney, S.J., and Fr. John Yates, S.J. I am proud to have been mentored by them and gratefully salute them all.
Marty McCormack, Jr. ’65: That would be a tie between Fr. Daniel Fitzpatrick and Mr. Brian Moroney. They were two totally different individuals but they made the same impression on me––that learning can be fun. I don't mean fun like in a kid's game but rather a truly enjoyable as well as a worthwhile experience. I thank them both.
Roger McGonegal ’65: Fr. Joe Latella, S.J. was my freshman homeroom and Latin teacher, and he became a dear friend over the years. I certainly wasn’t his best student, but he was always there through my four years on 16th Street (conveniently in the S.O.X. Office). In later years, he was available to officiate at family weddings, and funerals, and after college, while I was in the hotel industry, I was proud to host him, and we always enjoyed seeing one another. Following a career change for me, he became a regular guest in our home, and the good times continued. Sadly, in his final years, it was a series of one-sided conversations, but I knew that he was smiling as I recounted the good times. Thanks, Fr. Joe. Rest in peace.
Daniel Murphy ’65: Joe Caruso. His enthusiasm for the French language and culture inspired me to want to know the language and deepen my understanding and appreciation of other cultures. Fr. Richard Blake, S.J. used film and drama in his Greek and religion classes which led me to grasp the Ignatian principle of seeing God in all things.
Edward DeSimone ’66: Fr. Peter Fink, S.J., then a scholastic, was a real mentor to me. With my father's multiple medical problems, Fr. Fink was always available as someone I could talk to and confide in. In addition, his involvement in the Sodality helped in strengthening my spiritual formation and Ignatian values. I joined the Sodality and learned about spirituality and service. My classmates and I used to take the train to Jersey City and volunteered at St. Joseph School for the Blind, which had blind and deaf residents. We used to work in teams of three to do “patterning” in which we moved a child’s arms and head in unison as part of a brain patterning process. There were no pats on the back––just the knowledge that we gave of our time to try and help these vulnerable children. Ironically, I have spent the past 33 years teaching at Creighton University, a Jesuit institution in Omaha, Nebraska. Several years ago, Fr. Fink spent a summer at Creighton, and we had a chance to get together and reminisce.
Ron Graziano ’66: Impossible to answer. So many contributed to my development in so many ways.
Peter Costiglio ’66: Fr. Jim Hanigan, S.J.
Jim McDonough ’66: Probably Fr. Jim Keenan, S.J. I got pneumonia my junior year and missed a lot of time, and he did what he could to give my mother what I needed to keep up. He was "Mr. Keenan" at the time.
Patrick O’Brien ’66: Fr. Jim Keenan.
Jim Wickersty ’66: My guidance counselor, Fr. William McGowan, S.J. was a down-to-earth guy who knew how to “break the ice” and get kids to open up. I became a guidance counselor and never forgot that lesson.
Richard Battaglino ’67 P'96: My Headmaster, Fr. John J. McDonald S.J., who made it possible for me to go to Xavier. I never stopped going to Xavier to this day.
Major Francis Dong, USA (Ret.) ’67: Fifty-five years after graduation, and with the benefit of a lifetime of experience, it can only be said that there was not just one influential teacher who affected my life the most. Indeed, it was Xavier’s entire faculty and staff that affected my life and inculcated the values I hold dear. Their contributions and their synergistic efforts helped form the person I am today.
Deacon Francis Orlando ’67: Mr. Leo Paquin was the most influential teacher I met at Xavier. He was kind and helpful––a real father figure. Despite his fame and accomplishments as an athlete, he was approachable. After my first day at Xavier, my father asked me who my teachers were, and when I told him I had Mr. Paquin for Latin and English he was shocked. It was my father who told me about the Seven Blocks of Granite and the role Mr. Paquin played in the fame of Fordham football.
Ben Benya, Jr. ’68: I feel like the number of teachers who expanded my scope of understanding and introduced me to new areas of knowledge was large.
Lenny Alfano ’69: Fr. Joseph Reilly, S.J. taught us all to be easygoing and to have a sense of humor.
Philip Drago ’69: Fr. Joe Latella S.J, for his friendship over the years. If there was ever a blueprint for how a Xavier graduate should live his life, Fr. Latella showed it by the way he lived his life. He truly was a “Son of Xavier.”
Thomas Forlenza, M.D. ’69: Difficult to answer. They all influenced me in certain ways. If I have to choose, it is Brian Moroney. In addition to giving me a great appreciation for poetry, Brian introduced me to Opera and Lincoln Center.
John Pettinato ’69: Fr. Richard Hartnett, S.J. taught me by example, and how to overcome my fears and excel.
Thomas Cody ’70: Jim Scott, who taught freshman world history, was the track coach, and was my summer school teacher before enrolling; John Finnegan; and Hank Woehling, who gave me, and everyone else, a nickname.
Denis Kelly ’70: Mr. Jim Scott, Mr. George Febles, and Fr. Russ Sloun, S.J. and Mr. Ken Boller, S.J., Speech Team, and Sodality advisors.
John Peter Sabini ’70: There were a number of teachers who influenced me. The one who comes to mind is Mr. Brian Moroney who introduced me to the theater and the arts. He made access to the Met Opera, Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, and all theater venues affordable for all of us. I remember we got to meet Tennessee Williams. The other is Fr. Kenneth Boller, S.J., now pastor of St. Francis Xavier, who was head of Sodality and influenced me greatly.
Patrick Yuen ’70: Patrick Rooney, tennis coach. Despite the Athletic Department’s poor decision to discontinue tennis in my senior year, Mr. Rooney was instrumental in helping me get a partial tennis scholarship to Fordham. He was a class act and didn’t bear any resentment toward Xavier which is why I continue to donate to the scholarship fund in his honor.
Gene Foley ’71: My French language teacher: Fr. Russell Sloun, S.J.
John Frank ’71: So many; Fr. William Starkey, S.J., who allowed me to love math and nurtured my math abilities; Fr. Benjamin Fiore, S.J., later Fr. Fiore, who showed me what a caring Jesuit could be. And of course, Fr. Anthony Aracich, S.J., who pushed us harder than any teacher had, preparing us for the world we would soon enter. One day, when my laugh was annoying him, he told me to sit in the classroom trash can. I refused and opted to walk out on him instead. I assumed he would expel me for that, but when we met in the newspaper office later that day he listened as I explained he was humiliating me in front of my classmates and that was not what Xavier was about. He gave me some nominal punishment and let it go. I respected him for knowing he had gone a little too far that day. His teaching, though, was amazing. When I arrived at Marquette for my freshman year of college, I tested into junior year German––a class filled with students who had grown up in Germany or German households, and me.
John Hallinan ’71: Jim Scott was both my freshman English teacher and my track coach for four years. In addition to helping us deal with the "terror" that was Mr. John Finnegan's math class, his calm presence and wise counsel guided me well during my four years at Xavier.
Eric Hoffmeyer ’71: Mr. Hank Woehling and Major William Smullen. Geometry will never be the same on the planet without Mr. W's action-packed and humor-filled classes. His pet names for us, his hysterical antics, and how he kept us all captivated in the work made each class memorable. Major Smullen was instrumental in advancing both my ROTC placement in college and my career in the Army. His guidance and help were priceless.
Robert Hynes ’71: Hank Woehling was my first-year math teacher. He gave me what became my nickname for life. My name was Hynes so that became "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hynes." Eventually, folks called me "Doc" and because so many Xavier men went to Fairfield University, it carried over there...55 years later, it's still my nom de plume. More importantly, though, is that Hank was a hell of a math teacher. He demystified concepts, used real-world examples before that was a 'thing' in education, and cared about his students. A great man.
Edward Fox ’72: Fr. Anthony Aracich, S.J., and Fr. Robert Cregan, S.J. were my mentors and lifelong friends. They taught me so much and too much to recount. Outside of school, Fr. Aracich introduced me to the joys of Broadway plays, and Fr. Cregan encouraged me to visit the Frick Museum––which I've visited many times with friends and family on my trips to NYC.
John Garcia ’72: Sergeant Major Raymond Carney. He never let me settle or fade into the background. He believed in me when I did not quite believe in myself. I never forgot him and his mentorship
Thomas Healey ’72: Fr. Anthony Aracich, S.J. He was my mentor as moderator of the Review and my teacher in French and German classes. I had struggled a bit in freshman year and found my niche in French class with another life-changing teacher––Fr. Russell Sloun, S.J.––in sophomore year. In junior year, I met Fr. Aracich on the back stairs in the old building, where he told me in no uncertain terms that he would accept nothing less than a 93 from me. He scared me to death. But, as I got to know him, I also got to know not only him as a teacher but also as a priest. We had many long discussions about the future, about discerning my vocation and calling. I turned out not to be a priest, but he guided me with that combination of toughness and genuine friendship through my final two years at Xavier and beyond...as he did for many, many others.
Scott Cameron ’73: Fr. Eugene Murray, S.J. In one semester of freshman theology, he totally wrecked the eight years of indoctrination that the good Sisters of Charity had been programming into me since first grade, and forced me to start rebuilding my faith from more or less scratch. Praise the Lord!
Tom Donovan ’73: Mr. John Finnegan, undoubtedly. In freshman calculus, you learned because you were highly motivated to do so. Next year, sitting in geometry class, waiting for the arrival of our then-unannounced teacher, he made his dramatic entrance, robe swirling in his wake. He then wrote on the board, the Latin breakdown of sophomore, “wise fool.” Classic. We later learned he commuted long distances daily to help care for an ailing mother. His gruff exterior belied a passionate academic and deeply caring person.
Deacon James F. Maher ’73: My most influential teacher at Xavier was Fr. David White, S.J. He was a great teacher, and you earned every mark. He took time to teach by example and along the way, I learned chemistry and physics. Fr. White was a quiet man and always wore his blacks as a badge of honor. His mentoring us in the Stage Crew left many memories. May he rest in the peace of Christ.
Ray McCarthy ’73: Dr. Conxita Djedda, Ph.D. taught me biology over a summer, which led me to my major in college and an avocation for the rest of my life.
Christopher Roman ’73: Sergeant Major Ray Carney. May he rest in peace. Sergeant Major Raymond Carney was a man's man in every regard: generous, smart, poised, kind hearted, and interested in the development of his students as good men. He oversaw the X-Squad, among other responsibilities, and always encouraged us to work as a team, excel in our academic work, and look out for each other at all times. A patriot and a model for all, Sergeant Major Carney had impeccable manners and demeanor.
Marc Rosselli, S.J. ’73: Fr. Robert Cregan, S.J., Fr. Anthony Aracich, S.J., Fr. Jim Dinneen, S.J., Mr. John Foley, Mr. Tom Baker, Mr. Hank Woehling. They were fine teachers with their own style. The classes were enjoyable. They were all fine men, approachable, intelligent, and helpful.
Victor Vallo ’73: Mr. Robert Cusumano, the director of bands, who encouraged me to not only perform in the Band program but inspired me to continue studying music afterward which led to a career in music.
Kevin McLaughlin ’74: Mr. Joseph Caruso, who I had my senior year for a two-semester course in AP History. When I walked into the first day of class I looked around at the 20 assembled and realized I was looking at almost exactly the top 19 academically in my year with myself far higher than number 20. I almost immediately was the class goat and not what g.o.a.t. has come to mean. Mr. Caruso's classroom style was enthralling––almost operatic––which he was a big fan of. He engaged us all as we examined the full scope of American history––good and bad. The year-ending Advanced Placement exam for college credit always loomed with a 3.0 minimum score needed to secure those credits. "Mr. McLaughlin three point oh," Mr. Caruso would often refer to me during class those two semesters. The exam finally came and Mr. McLaughlin scored a 4.0. The downside was that we learned our scores during the summer after graduation, so I'm now happy to report to my AP classmates I'm "Mr. McLaughlin 4.0."
Michael Moresco ’74: I recently retired after 40 years as a high school teacher and administrator. I am a teacher because of Fr. Jim Keenan who was the assistant headmaster during my four years. He taught me the imperative role that compassion and realistic expectations both play in working with young people.
Richard Scheller ’74: Mr. John Finnegan for his ability to teach math and life lessons at the same time, Mr. Brian Moroney for his love of his students as well as subject matter, Fr. Vincent Taylor, S.J. for his taking us back to the 1920s with his passion for F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fr. Vincent Duminuco for his vision of what an education should include.
John Schneider ’74: Fr. James Curry, S.J. I developed a love for history in his Modern European History class my senior year.
Tom Maffey ’75: Fr. Anthony Aracich, S.J. If you don't know why I can’t explain.
Jack Oliva ’75: Sergeant Major Raymond Carney. We were so intimidated by him in freshman year because he always knew what you did and there was no fooling him. Over the next three years, he became my first mentor and remained my counselor through college, into active duty, and until God called him home. I also have to mention Fr. Vincent Duminuco, S.J., who invited me to lunch when I arrived at Fordham University as a freshman. It was very awkward for me to be having lunch with the headmaster, but I came away with a new understanding of how he saw his life and his relationship with God. That one hour has stuck with me for the rest of my life. I doubt he understood the profound impact of that simple meeting.
John Telesca ’75: Many teachers inspired us, or in my case, were very patient. Mr. Joe Caruso made us think about social studies issues, Fr. Michael Hoag, S.J. shared his love of literature in English, Sergeant Major Raymond Carney made military science more personable, Ms. Linda Salvati clearly loved her library, and Fr. Jim Keenan balanced rules with reality to help us succeed.
Lou Bonica ’76: Sergeant Major Ray Carney. He helped instill in me self-discipline that has helped me be successful in life. And on the administration side, Fr. Ken Boller, S.J. was always there to help and listen.
Gerald Edwards ’77: It's a toss-up between Fr. Patrick Sullivan, S.J., and Mr. Richard Mannion. Fr. Sullivan gave me the confidence with hard work I could work hard and surpass my expectations for myself. Mr. Mannion gave me a love for history that still influences my reading list.
Anthony Sarro, Jr. ’77: Two teacher's come to mind. First was Fr. Vincent Biagi, S.J. I studied French and his joy of teaching made the subject surprisingly come alive for me. It inspired an awareness and appreciation of other cultures which is a fascination and interest that remained with me to this day. My interests culminated with a 13-month trip with a backpack traveling from Europe to Egypt, to Southeast Asia to the South Pacific, not as a tourist, but as a traveler, rooting myself deeply into the cultures I encountered. The second was Mr. Lawrence Pesce, an English teacher I had for one year. In his class, we traversed many great American authors and playwrights from Hemingway to Fitzgerald, to O'Neil to Steinbeck. He brought out the lessons contained in the works and somehow inspired them to gain relevance in my own life, which I feel is a great gift to the reader. To not just “read” a work, but to gain personal relevance. Steinway remains one of my favorites to this day.
Chris Doyle ’79: I would name two teachers. One was my math teacher, Mr. Finnegan, who made math so understandable to learn. The other teacher is Fr. Joe Lux, S.J., who taught me Latin and English and was also the moderator of the football team. Fr. Lux helped me to love reading and made class fun while also making sure we completed our work. He and Fr. Sullivan also shared my love of the Mets.
Michael Wickman ’79: Fr. Patrick Sullivan, S.J. was my English teacher during my freshman year in 1975. He was logical, articulate, and very caring. I will never forget my first week of class, after attending Mass, feeling like I did not belong and my parents could never afford the tuition. Fr. Sullivan told me I had "chutzpah" and explained the meaning of this word (instant courage). It was all I needed.
Michael Barbieri ’80 P'10: Mr. Joseph Caruso for history and Fr. Joseph Lux, S.J. for English. I had each for two years at Xavier. Fr. Lux really taught me how to write and how to understand and appreciate what I read. Mr. Caruso was just a true gentleman and a great man who taught me a great deal about what was right and what was wrong.
Stephen McAllister ’80: Fr. Joe Lux, S.J. was a great influence, generous with his time, and a great supporter of the football team.
Dan Simonette ’82: My homeroom teacher during freshman year was Fr. Joseph Lux, S.J. His unorthodox style was exactly what I needed to assist me in growing. I can share many colorful stories about that homeroom, but it is 2022, and those life lessons would not be appreciated. He was also the football moderator and led me to join the Bruins (now Knights). In my sophomore year, I had Tommy O'Hara for Social Studies, and I was introduced to the Outlaw Rugby Club (now Knights), and have been in love with rugby ever since. I have made lifelong friends playing football and rugby for Xavier. The list is much too long to mention.
Andrew Meyer ’85: So many to choose from but I believe the moment Mr. Franklin Caesar let us listen to Rush (Closer to the Heart) in the classroom and then break down the poetry of the lyrics, he secured the top spot.
Mark Jannone ’86: Reflecting on my most impressionable years, Fr. Vincent Taylor, S.J. helped me appreciate the literary classics from Cheever to Shakespeare
David Bloom ’88: Larry LeBow pulled me aside at a particularly tough time during my junior year. To my chagrin, he suggested that I meet with him after class. I was doing terribly. I think we both had preconceived notions about each other––him, the not-so-suave teacher––me, simply unfocused. We started basic, but I ended up improving substantially, forming a foundation and renewed confidence that would help me excel in Mr. Thomas Baker's calculus class the following year. Turns out Mr. LeBow was pretty thoughtful and cool. While I never cashed in on his invites to join him and a group of his tennis disciples to attend U.S. Open practices, I will always be grateful to him for taking the time to get to know me and for pushing me, when I really needed a push.
Alex Valich ’92: I couldn't name just one because I think, as a group, the diversity of opinion and points of view showed me what a varied world we live in.
Christopher Muller ’93: I didn’t know it at the time, but the teacher who had the most influence on me was Mr. John Scott, who I had for Latin all four years. His teaching, not just of the language, but of how to think, impacted me greatly.
Patrick Tubridy ’93: Mrs. Denise Iacovone née Fusco––she is amazing. Mrs. I challenged me, encouraged me, and went to bat for me. I owe her so much gratitude and am always content to contribute to the art programs at Xavier.
Matthew Scalzo ’95: John Foley was the most impactful educator I had while at Xavier. He so clearly led us to a concrete understanding of God as a “pure self-gift.” John possessed an incredible ability to bring God’s presence out of the ethereal and into the concrete, day-to-day experiences.
John Murillo ’97: Ms. Margaret Gonzalez was my favorite teacher while at Xavier. I had her for both sophomore and senior year English but really connected with her on a Kairos retreat. As a student, she made English class pretty enjoyable. But as a person, she always made me feel respected and pushed me to be the best version of myself.
Justin Guiterman ’99: This is an impossible question to answer, but if I must choose the most influential, it would have to be Mr. Joseph Sweeney. I not only loved his history classes but to this day, admire his life journey on setting a life path that is fulfilling.
Anthony Rogone ’03: Major Ronald Grandel––for helping point me in the right direction for college and my future career on ships and teaching.
Michael Gorini ’05: Mr. Michael Chiafulio. I took a computer course with him during my freshman or sophomore year and then he was my teacher and coach for the robotics competition. We would not have made it without his dedication.
Major Michael Nilsen, USA ’07: Difficult question. I cannot say since so many of them shaped me to become who I am.
Kevin Keenan ’08: Mrs. Denise Iacovone was and remains the most influential teacher I've ever had. She constantly challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone, reflect on my feelings, and learn to express what I couldn't in words through my art. She changed my life and will always have a special place in my heart.
Chris Edgell ’11: Ms. Jennifer Velazquez. A teacher who was always available when needed. Fair, honest, genuine. Thankful I had her for Algebra 2/Trigonometry and College Algebra.
James Lavelle ’14: It's hard to pick one! Nicole DiMarco, Patrick Mahon '04, and James Costa '02 all helped me learn the necessary skills that set me down my current path in academia. Nicole DiMarco taught me how to captivate an audience and continuously pushed me out of my comfort zone. I don't think I would be half as effective as a teaching assistant and instructor if it weren't for my four years in the Xavier Dramatics Society under DiMarco. James Costa and Patrick Mahon encouraged my love of history––the critical thinking, reading, and writing skills I developed in their classes remain the basic fundamental skills that I endeavor to teach my own students. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the key support that Deena Sellers and Lieutenant Colonel Campbell provided throughout my Xavier career.
Jack Johnson ’12: Fr. Lou Garaventa was my freshman year history teacher. He started our class with the phrase, "Mumsy and Daddy aren't here to help you; it's time to put away the things of a child." Fr. Garaventa taught us very quickly that this wasn't a normal school, but one that taught you how to think for yourself and on your own.
Nick Barone ’16: Bill Martino had such a lasting impact on me. He had a very analytical (and sarcastic) approach to teaching and living life. I only had him for one class (John Steinbeck and New York Literature), but it was in that one class that I learned the values of family, brotherhood, love, and life itself. Martino managed to tie each of these values into his teachings (which must've been hard because Steinbeck goes on and on about land in his books). One lesson that stands with me to this day was our final lesson. Martino handed each of us a letter, penned by John Steinbeck to his son, on the last day of classes. The letter was about falling in love; about how love is an outpouring of everything good in you. I didn't understand the letter at the time. I kept the letter––hoping to one day decipher its meaning. Six years later, I've finally cracked it. I look back to Martino's class and thank him for each and every lesson he imparted on us.
Arthur Gange ’19: This is a really tough question. Every year at Xavier it felt like I had a different favorite teacher. But if I had to pick just one, it would have to be Dr. Phil Caliendo. That man was the definition of old school. He drilled the foundations of Latin so hard into my mind that when I started taking Latin again in college, three years after my time with Dr. Caliendo, almost all of it was still there. He’s the reason I got an 'A' in Latin 101 and 102. When he passed away, my family sponsored a requiem Mass for the repose of his soul at my home parish. He had such a profound influence on my life, and I hope my prayers were able to help him on his heavenly pilgrimage.
Esteban Rivera ’19: Mr. Mike Chiafulio has always been absolutely incredible and was always pushing the boundaries on what STEM should be in this school. He really fostered so many of my interests and helped me get to where I am today.
Tim Gannon ’23: My favorite teacher during my time at Xavier has been my sophomore religion teacher, Fr. Jim Hederman, S.J. While I have had an array of mentors here at Xavier who have guided me and made me the man I am today, Father’s presence in my life stands out. Before coming to Xavier, most of my religion classes had simply been lessons about the stories of the Bible and why it is bad to kill. It felt like walking into math class and the teacher asking what two plus two equals. Nonetheless, Fr. Hederman’s class was the first real opportunity that I received to connect my faith as a Roman Catholic, to my life at Xavier and beyond. One of the main themes of the year was finding your “true self” and, while I admittedly found it a bit cheesy at first, I began to realize the potential applications this class could have in my life. When I accepted this new notion of how to live, where you work to become the version of yourself God created you to be, you reap the benefits, and the lives of you and the people around you improve. For the first time as a Catholic I was able to see how the story of St. Francis of Assisi or St. Ignatius of Loyola had any relevance in my life, but Fr. Hederman helped me understand that these saints were people just like me and they could be used as role models for finding our unique and sometimes unorthodox place in the world. Fr. Hederman’s impact on my life extended far beyond the classroom. When I was dealing with some personal tragedies within my family, he was right there for me. He made time to speak with me and provided me with outlets to reduce my stress and sorrow. While I no longer have him as a teacher, I still keep his lessons in the back of my head, and I know that whenever I need someone to help me take my mind off of things, I know where to look.