By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The fifth grade classroom at Conneaut Elementary School is Bob Marzola’s stage.
“There’s storytelling. There are props. There are costumes. At least when I teach there are,” Marzola said.
Marzola, who teaches social studies and English language arts, knew his teaching style was reaching his young audience when a parent came in for a teacher conference. The student had told her mother that Marzola memorizes a new script every day.
“‘Mom, I don’t know how Mr. Marzola does it,’” the parent explained her child said after school one day. “‘He puts on a different show every day.’”
Ta-da. Lesson learned in a most pleasant way.
Marzola was recognized Thursday by the Kiwanis Club as Bowling Green’s elementary inspirational educator. The organization honors outstanding teachers each year. Later this month, inspirational educators from the middle school and high school will be recognized.
Marzola is definitely not a traditional type of teacher. His skills are known throughout the district, leading teachers from his own and the other elementaries to recommend him for the award.
“He’s creative. We want kids to think outside the box,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “He brings the classroom to life. The kids love him.”
And Marzola loves them back.
“I’m here receiving this award because of them,” he said. “I have become a better teacher because of my relationship with them. They inspire me. Just as I’m teaching my students, they are teaching me.”
Marzola gets to reconnect with a lot of his students when they get into high school, since he choreographs all the district’s musical productions.
“Building on the relationships we had when we were in the elementary is amazing,” he said. “They truly are attached to your heart forever.”
Marzola credited his parents with being patient with his love of dance as he was growing up. Their support was steadfast even when his first performance consisted of him standing on stage crying. He stuck with it, and they stuck by him.
And that has helped make him the teacher who stages his lessons for eager young minds.
“Teaching and theater – it’s the same,” Marzola said. “Students don’t want to be talked to. They want to be taken on a journey.”
And like any good performer, Marzola knows when his audience is not responding. “There’s a lot of thinking on your feet. A good teacher flips the script” and finds a different way to reach the students. “I want to inspire them to always achieve their best.”
Marzola also credited his fellow teachers for inspiration. Educators are always sharing strategies that work in the classroom.
“If you keep it to yourself, it does not help your students,” he said. “They’ve helped me to be a better teacher.”
Marzola also thanked the school administration for being tolerate of his non-traditional techniques.
“I appreciate that they let me teach in a way that plays to my strengths,” he said. “I love what I do. I truly believe this is what I was meant to do.”
Turns out it’s not just the kids who love Marzola. Several Kiwanis members whose children were in Mazola’s class over the years also had fond memories.
As he introduced Marzola, Lee Meserve talked about the thrill of being a good teacher. “Turning those lights on over little heads and watching them glow – there’s nothing better.”