Art Teacher Overcomes Seemingly Insurmountable Obstacle


Laura Panagis, Features Editor

Imagine never seeing a true blue or a real red- living your life with a color vision deficiency but not knowing it until you’re out of college.

For over 18 years, Wantagh high school’s art teacher Mr. Parlagreco couldn’t tell blue from violet. Parlagreco lived over two decades undiagnosed with color blindness. As a child, he was tested for colorblindness, He unintentionally fooled the doctors, and himself, into thinking he wasn’t, because he could distinguish between the different inks that were used to print the different colors on the testing card, though he couldn’t actually see those colors.

It wasn’t until Parlagreco was in his early 20′s that his condition was finally diagnosed. “Often I would work on a painting, and my wife would ask me why I was using a particular color,” he says. “Usually a dark brown or green – and I would tell her that wasn’t the color I was using. This led to me to realize I wasn’t seeing the color correctly and finally getting a diagnosis.”

Parlagreco worked as a studio and freelance artist for many years before he decided to become an art teacher. He ventured into the world of art education and has been working in Wantagh for nine years.

Parlagreco will tell you that painting is not his strongest art form, and that this stems from not being able to distinguish between the subtleties of colors. Nonetheless, this gave him an upper hand with black and white work. The unknown of what colors look like led him to the focus on the lines and shapes that give objects form.

Unfortunately there is no cure for Parlagreco’s condition; his red-green color deficiency is genetically passed down from his mother. However there are “loopholes.” A color blind person can buy colored filters or contact lenses.

Frederick Douglass, a 19th century freed slave turned author, once said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” Mr. Parlagreco is an ideal representation, teaching students more then what is on his resume. No matter what obstacle stands in the way between you and your dreams, overcoming them is what makes your dreams even more worthwhile.