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#PREPpeople: Chris Borgatti
Posted 05/10/2018 02:43PM

One in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting St. John's Prep faculty

Chris Borgatti, Science Teacher

HOMETOWN: Natick, Massachusetts


EDUCATION: M.A. in curriculum and instruction, Boston College;  B.A. in environmental science and geography, Ohio Wesleyan University

FUN FACT: “My students are always surprised when I tell them I went to Xaverian in Westwood.”

DESCRIBE A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP: “Dr. David Hickcox was one of my geography professors in college. He inspired me to get outside and explore the environment through the context of place, which is what geography is all about. He also inspired me to travel, but never as a tourist, something I try to convey to the students I take on our outdoor adventure trips. We still stay in touch and from time to time we connect when we are both in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.”

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TEACH FOR A LIVING? “I had been working as a project engineer, doing environmental engineering, but I wasn’t finding fulfillment. I knew I needed to make a change, but I didn’t know what the change was going to be at the time. Someone suggested that I see if there was an urban school that needed a science teacher. This was late August. I picked up the Boston Globe and saw an opening at Little Flower Elementary School in Somerville. When I called, the principal had filled the position, but we chatted on the phone and she invited me to come in. We had a great conversation and the next thing I knew, she had offered me a job. Three days later, I was teaching and it was off to the races. I taught everything from U.S. history and geography, to religion and sixth, seventh and eighth grade science. It was a great crash course in education. I loved knowing that every day I was working to expand the horizons of the kids in front of me.”

WHAT PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF ST. JOHN’S THAT INFORMS YOUR WORK WITH STUDENTS AT THE PREP?: “One of my big passions is getting kids engaged in the outdoors. We have great opportunities in public lands here in New England and in the rest of the country in the national parks, state forests, wildlife management areas, and local land trusts. But in our busy society, fewer and fewer kids are finding opportunities to just go outside, whether it’s for a trail run, riding a mountain bike, fishing, or any of those things. I am on the board of the New England chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, which is one of the fastest growing conservation organizations in the country. I do it because I want to make sure our outdoor resources are available to future generations—for the connection to nature and recreational opportunities, and also for wildlife. The only way that will happen is for people to utilize and prioritize those landscapes.”

WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE EVERY DAY? “It’s knowing that in a small way—some days it’s a tiny way, some days it’s a big way—you’re helping students process the world around them and you get to take part in that formation. Just like anything else, sometimes you make mistakes, but you find new ways to better prepare students for a changing world. It’s a neat profession in that respect. You get to help young people prepare for life in the real world. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
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