Mike Agrati isn’t afraid to speak to his students the same way he talks to his children.
Agrati is retiring from teaching at the end of this school year
Throughout his 35 years as an employee of the Wayne School District, Agrati has been very real with his students. Agrati, one of the assistant principals of , handles all of the discipline matters there.
Agrati doesn’t mince words. He wants to see them succeed not just in high school, but also in life after high school. Being strict with them, the way a parent is with his or her children, is the way Agrati wants to be with his students. He does it out of his love for their well being.
“I’ve had a great time,” Agrati said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with kids who have come back after they’ve graduated and they’ve told me ‘thank you.’ It’s usually the kids who gave you the most trouble who do that.”
He started in the district as an industrial arts teacher in 1977 at . He taught a lot of skills-based classes. He also developed a life skills curriculum for special education students at Hills. He taught them carpentry and plumbing, among other things and how to use the equipment necessary to perform each task.
“It was probably one of the most enjoyable times I had while at Wayne Hills,” Agrati said.
Developing the curriculum is just one of the things Agrati has done to help others in his life.
He couldn’t afford to send him to college immediately after high school so he enlisted in the Coast Guard and performed about 300 search and rescue missions a year.
“It was a very rewarding time, I have to say,” Agrati said.
He then went to George Washington Middle School in 1998 and became a technology teacher. His received his first taste of administrative duty when he filled in for the principal for an extended period of time. He became an assistant principal of Wayne Valley in 2003.
The changes he has seen throughout the district are astonishing, Agrait said. He could remember when his school received its first copy machine. Now, there are computers and printers in every office and smart boards in classrooms. And, he said, the trend is only going to spill over into the classroom more and more.
“I think that within a year you’ll find that smart phones will be allowed in classrooms. Tablets too,” Agrati said. “If a device can access the Internet, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom, especially if it is a useful tool that can be used for education.”
Agrait said that more skills-based instruction, like that given at Passaic County Technical Institute, should be incorporated into the knowledge-based curriculum taught at most public high schools.
“You need to meet the needs of the kids who want to go to college and become doctors, lawyers, and engineers, but there are also jobs out there that we haven’t even begun to think can exist,” Agrati said.
He said he’ll miss the daily interaction he has with his staff.
Agrati’s educational legacy is in good hands it turns out. His oldest daughter teaches at George Washington. His son and daughter-in-law teach history at Wayne Hills and kindergarten at John F. Kennedy and Lafayette Elementary Schools, respectively.
Agrati said he doesn’t think of himself as just a disciplinarian.
“We’re not truly in the discipline business as much as we are in the responsibility business, but sometimes with the responsibility, there comes discipline," Agrati said.