For as long as he can remember, Patrick Cleary wanted to be a teacher.
But it was his time at St. Joseph’s University, New York that made him confident in his career.
“My time at St. Joseph’s was an amazing experience that prepared me for my career in the greatest way possible,” said Cleary, who earned a B.A. in History with a Concentration in Adolescence Education in 2019 from the Long Island Campus.
“From the amazing educators I got to learn from, the interactive environment within the education department, and the real-life application of learning, I found myself as a young educator ready, willing and able to take on any challenge with the utmost confidence in myself and my abilities as an educator,” added Cleary, a social studies teacher and head varsity lacrosse coach at Fontbonne Hall in Brooklyn, New York. “And I have St. Joseph’s to thank for that mindset!”
Thankful for His Experience at St. Joseph’s
Cleary, who played varsity lacrosse and football for Patchogue-Medford High School, transferred to St. Joseph’s University as a junior after spending two years at a university in Tennessee, eager for the educational opportunities offered to students at St. Joseph’s.
“Once I began to read and speak to alumni, the choice was clear for me that I would finish my undergraduate degree at St. Joe’s,” he said. “The amazing reputation St. Joseph’s has for their education program drew me completely to the institution. All of my expectations were surpassed as I became a student that fall.”
Cleary’s decision to teach stemmed from his own experience as a student.
“Those small actions of teachers giving all of themselves to their profession inspired me to be a teacher too, and more importantly to never give up on a student and to go out of my way to help in any small way I can,” said Cleary, who graduated from Patchogue-Medford in 2015.
His favorite memory from his time at St. Joseph’s involves his student teaching experience.
“The classes I had with the other student teachers were full of engaging discussion rich in varying educational practices, successes, failures, and an all around uplifting environment where we felt as if we were all in this together, and that by helping one another, we all would succeed,” Cleary, 24, said. “It was a special experience that has helped drive my collaborative spirit as an educator.”
Now, years after graduating, Cleary still finds himself reminded of the University’s motto from time to time.
“Ever since I was a student at St. Joseph’s, and now as an educator, I often think about and look to those most important words for comfort and inspiration: Esse non videri — ‘To be, not to seem,” the Patchogue resident said.
Excelling as an Educator at Fontbonne Hall
Cleary landed a job at Fontbonne Hall, a Catholic, all-girl high school founded by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Jospeh, this academic year.
“What drew me to Fontbonne Hall was its great sense of commitment to building an amazing community of independent young women,” he said. “I am truly a better teacher and person for being a part of this community.”
Cleary’s favorite part of teaching and his biggest inspiration in life are one and the same: his students.
“Being able to teach them motivates me every single day to be the best educator I can be,” he said. “I learn from them every day, and I am extremely grateful to be their teacher. Because of them, I wake up every morning excited to go to work.
“Big thank you and shout out to all the students at FH, you girls make teaching the greatest job in the world,” he added.
Cleary also thanks his parents for helping him get where his is.
“Being their son has been my greatest virtue, and I cannot thank them enough for putting up with me and doing their best to help make me the person I am today,” he said.