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Paglia: Theyre kind of like unmolded clay.
Riverside Military Academy instructor Marc Paglia answers a question during an Advanced Placement calculus class. - photo by Tom Reed | The Times

Marc Paglia | Riverside Military Academy

Marc Paglia may not spend as much time in the classroom as he does directing athletics at Riverside, but witnessing the growth of the cadets still resonates with him.

“You see these young men mature and grow intellectually as well as character wise,” he said. “We have a big influence here.”

He has been at Riverside for 23 years and has taught math along with coaching swimming for the last 22 years (he’s won eight state championships).

He was named as the athletic director last year.

Why did you choose teaching?
“When I started college I was really interested in math and science. I went to Michigan State University and I wanted to be a chemical engineer. I kind of hit a road block as far as chemistry. I could do the math, but the chemistry when it got to the advanced levels it got to be too much and I lost interest in it. Then I went on to mechanical engineering thinking that would be a good way to use my math skills in an application. But I also lost interest in that, because of immaturity at the time or what, but I was really focused on the math part of it. So I finally changed my major one last time to math. To stay connected with math, to be in the loop, as things progressed, teaching would be the best way. As a teacher, you’re always kind of a student, keeping up with the latest trends.”

“Just working with people. Working with young people at that level, they haven’t really been set in their ways like adults. ... They’re kind of like unmolded clay sometimes. You can make more of an influence, and that motivates me.”

Most memorable teaching moment
Three STAR students have chosen Paglia as their STAR teacher. “Situations like that where I get recognized or appreciated by students, and their accomplishment of being a STAR student reflects a little bit on me.”

Advice for other teachers
“Two things: one would be to have a sense of humor and the other would be to stay patient. ... Not to be silly about it but always have a good outlook, and don’t take it too seriously because that reflects onto the kids. After a while it gets to be a grind, especially in math ... You have to be patient because it may be easier for you but it’s not easy for most people. ... You have to have that patience that they might not get it the first time, but stay with it.”