Mr. Padgur – Special Education

Kiera Fitzpatrick, Editor-in-Chief

Wantagh High School welcomes two new Special Education teachers to its staff this year. The twelfth grade collaborative teacher, Mr. Jim Padgur, is one of them. He graduated from Commack High School in 1998, and from there went on to study at St. Joseph’s College, majoring in child study Prek-6 and minoring in social studies 7-12. He also went to Stony Brook University for Liberal Arts and Sciences, and received an advanced coaching certificate – in Commack he coached girls’ and boys’ J.V. softball/baseball, and also was an assistant football coach.

Mr. Padgur returned to his high school to teach from 2002-2010. He said it was a bit bizarre at first, the faces that were once filled with familiar faces: teachers and friends, were now filled with colleagues and his students. He then realized, this was the first day of the rest of his life as an educator. Of course, his former teachers embarrassed him with old stories – but nonetheless, he loved being a part of the faculty at Commack High School.

“Interacting with young adolescents with developmental delays was an amazing and eye opening experience.” His first experience with special needs children was at Camp Alvernia in Centerport. The compassion displayed another side of the mainstream argumentative teen campers really pushed him towards this field. While teaching at CHS, he helped organize the Cougar Athletic Club, an intramural club where students with special needs and students who weren’t able to play on scholastic teams were able to participate in athletic activities. AHA (Athletes Helping Athletes) was later formed. This expanded program involved student athletes visiting classrooms and instilling the important aspects of sportsmanship, like tolerance, fairness, teamwork, and respect. It was evident to Mr. Padgur that often he was learning more from these students, than they learned from the teachers.

After jesting about sweater/jacket Mondays, Padgur explained that he’s noticed that Wantagh is a close knit community, where the students and the school are the heartbeat. He has to get used to the competitive nature of our sports teams. In Commack, baseball and dance team were the most consistently successful teams, but that’s obviously not the case in Wantagh. Evidently, Commack is enormous compared to Wantagh, with about 600 kids in each graduating class. Mr. Padgur is assigned to Mrs. Benedetto, who he sees as someone comparable to the mayor of WHS. She has been very diligent in familiarizing him with his students. Aside from preparing the students for exams, Mr. Padgur and Mrs. B listen to students about their problems, whether it is school related, social, or emotional.

A common statement about Wantagh is that it’s comparable to a family. Mr. Padgur says that Wantagh is a very welcoming environment. His colleagues have been successful in treating him as a member of the Wantagh team and faculty.

Outside of Wantagh, Mr. Padgur plays on a competitive men’s baseball team, whiffle ball, racquetball. He does weight training, and mountain bikes – an overall active and fit man. He’s a Yankee’s fan, also. His daughter, Avamarie, is two years old and he also has a rescued stray dog named Maggie. She’s a lab/shepherd mix. Aside from the aforementioned physical activities, he also does construction and interior/exterior painting.

He’s not only limited to his students in the collaborative class, so don’t be afraid to approach him. He also tutors in history, among other subjects. Concluding, as a vital addition to Wantagh High School’s special education department, we should all further welcome him into the family he has previously seen demonstrated in Wantagh.