Amherst College honors Oceanside math teacher
Amherst, Mass. — Donald Pietroski, a math teacher at Oceanside High School, was among three instructors honored with a Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Award during Amherst College’s 193rd Commencement exercises May 25.
Recipients of the honor, which recognizes instructors and counselors who have been important in the lives of graduating Amherst students, are chosen by a committee of seniors, faculty and staff from nominations submitted by members of the Class of 2014.
According to Amherst graduate and nominator Hayli Kinney, Pietroski is a teacher who follows principles and motivations that match those of her alma mater.
“He lives to usher his students — each and every one of them — into lives of compassion, success and significance,” she wrote in nominating him for a Swift Moore Award.
Kinney, a Spruce Head native, cited numerous examples of Pietroski’s dedication to and genuine concern for his students’ well-being, both in and outside of his classroom. As an assistant coach on Oceanside High School’s soccer field, Pietroski took time to listen to a sophomore’s input as genuinely as if the student were a senior. Kinney also recalled witnessing him dress a “poor third-stringer’s blister with the same concern as he did the middle-class top-scorer’s twisted ankle.” A keen observer of his students’ lives outside of school, Pietroski discreetly “checked up on” them and offered his help, especially to those whose families faced troublesome circumstances. When it came time for college applications, Pietroski was no less supportive, providing particular encouragement and guidance to students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Kinney simply states, “Without his wisdom and compassion, I would not be at Amherst, or at any school of similar caliber, today.” She said hopes to become a teacher like him.
The Phebe and Zephaniah Swift Moore Teaching Awards are named for the first president of Amherst and his wife. This is the 17th year that the college has presented the awards.