This year at Wheatley is certainly different than any other, but nevertheless our sense of community is stronger than ever. The social studies department welcomed a new addition to the faculty who has already started impacting the lives of students. Here is everything you need to know about Mr. Justin Portente.
He was raised in Suffolk County with his parents, identical twin brother, older brother, and sister. During his time in school, he considered himself to be “somewhat of a dork” as he always enjoyed going to school. The subject he least enjoyed was ninth grade geometry. If he could teach a subject that wasn’t social studies it would be a foreign language, because “it’s important to learn about other cultures.” When asked about who inspired him to become a social studies teacher he said, “My two social studies teachers were Tracey Melandro and Katie Couch, now Daquino. I think the reason why some kids dislike social studies is because they think that it’s all about memorizing names, dates, and events. They weren’t only kind and caring, but they also made social studies practical by relating it to the real world. As a teacher, I like to use some of the same instructional methods that they utilized when I was their student.” He completed his undergraduate studies at Binghamton University where he studied History and Political Science. He said, “I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher and at Binghamton, I was able to improve my content knowledge of social studies. I was also lucky enough to study at King’s College London for a semester. After I finished at Binghamton, I went to Stony Brook for my Master’s in Teaching where I learned about educational things, such as teaching strategies and classroom management techniques.”
First impressions are important and when he first arrived here, he said, “As a new teacher, The Wheatley School was everything you could dream of: there are intelligent students, a lot of clubs, and a great community.” Now, during his time here, he has become fast friends with his colleagues and is growing a strong connection to his students. His classroom philosophy is “to get the students involved, engaged, and talking with me, as well as with each other. While it’s a little difficult to do cooperative work right now due to COVID, my overall goal is to have the students in control of their learning experience and that comes with working together in groups, debating issues, and sharing personal experiences and opinions that relate to the content.” As a student of his, he has definitely done all that and more. He is very enthusiastic about social studies and it shows through his teaching. He continued by mentioning, “I don’t care about being the ‘cool teacher’ or the ‘funny teacher.’ I care about being a good and effective teacher who is able to engage their students in the content. If I’m those other things along the way, then that’s just a win-win.¨
Outside of school he has a lot of hobbies and things he enjoys doing. One of his biggest passions is traveling. He believes “it’s the best thing you could do to learn about other cultures. Obviously it’s put to a halt right now due to COVID-19, but I’m lucky enough to have a great group of friends that like to travel together. I’ll always drag my friends to different museums that we’ll research and my favorite has been the Churchill War Rooms in London. I’ve also been to Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, France, and various places in the Caribbean.”
Along with traveling, Mr. Portente is a big sports fan. He loves to play baseball and basketball. His favorite sports teams are the Mets, Jets, Knicks, and Islanders. Music wise. he had this to say when it came to his taste: “This is going to be a controversial answer… I listen to quality music, which means I don’t listen to country music. My top artists for the year were Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, The 1975, the Weeknd, and due to her two albums this year, Taylor Swift.” On the topic of food, he likes, “Burgers, burritos, and anything with buffalo sauce, whether it’s wings or buffalo chicken pizza. I also happen to make the BEST buffalo chicken dip on the planet.” During this interview, he did have a realization that he has a “habit of using DoorDash and Uber Eats.” Also, while he is not really a snacker, his go to snack would be strawberries. The final Portente fact is that his favorite color ¨has been, and always will be, blue.”
I hope this feature allows you to learn all about Mr. Portente. His final note to Wheatley is, “It’s been the joy of my life being able to teach here and I’m extremely excited to be a part of the Wheatley community.”