The Magnificent Margadonna

Mr. Justin Margadonna finds new and creative ways to teach literature.

Megan Gilmore

Mr. Justin Margadonna finds new and creative ways to teach literature.

Christian Hall

Anyone who walks into room 222 knows they are not going to have any ordinary literature class. Since August 2015, many St. Dominic students have been graced to have the man, the myth, the lit teacher, Mr. Justin Margadonna.

From spontaneous rhetoric speeches to yelling Shakespeare in other classes, you never know what each class will hold. Mr. Margadonna uses techniques like these to truly bring a class to life and help enforce lessons in unique ways. Out of all the wacky activities he has done, Mr. Margadonna has a favorite.

“My favorite memory is from three years ago with my juniors. I was teaching writing perspective and how the environment in which we create is so very important.  During the lesson, I had one of my goofy ideas; I told the entire class to carry their desks with them to various locations throughout the building (we were like a train of desks). I would have them stop at these locations and write from that particular new environment. To conclude the desk train, we all went outside with the desks and lined up on the sidewalk near the front entrance, where the students concluded their writing exercise from a different environment. I can only imagine what passersby thought…” Mr. Margadonna said.

In any Margadonna class, the foundations of formal writing, or grading categories, is always enforced. Many students see improvement in their writing from the beginning of the year to the end, and Mr. Margadonna loves to see each student’s improvement.

“I love the process of seeing a student start as a tiny seed…and then he/she grows into a tree of knowledge. Teaching is quite rewarding…having a student think writing is impossible in August, and then come May, a realization sets in that writing is not a monster but just a process. I also love the creative aspect, along with having an opportunity to teach a subject I truly love. There is nothing more powerful than the written word,” Mr. Margadonna said.

Although the recent distance learning has caused new challenges, Mr. Margadonna continues to “roll with the punches.”

“I honestly try to approach the online courses the same way…as if I were in room 222. I still begin class with the Socrative challenge…I still hold discussions via Google Classroom…and I still drive home the importance of formal writing every day (aka…Grading Categories!). I just have had to relearn my approach with certain lessons. However, nothing can replace the ‘live’ classroom…nothing,” Mr. Margadonna said.

While learning may look a little different than a classroom setting, Mr. Margadonna is a firm believer in routine. He begins class with a sort of “bell ringer.”

“I now do a ‘Theme Warm-up,’ where my classes watch a random film clip. Once they watch the clip they need to create a theme (based on the clip), explain why ‘that’ theme is worthy and use an in-text citation from the movie scene,” Mr. Margadonna said.

Mr. Margadonna also runs Writer’s Guild, a writing club at St. Dominic. Although they can’t meet in person, he is challenging the writers to embrace the current situation.

“I have asked the writers to try and journal during this moment in our history. I am hoping to have their work posted soon on our website,” Mr. Margadonna said.

Whether you’ve had Mr. Margadonna in class or not, everyone knows the character he is, and students are excited to see what else distance learning brings out in him and his unique lessons.