Teacher Profile: James Peter DeGazio

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Year(s) and Subject(s) Taught
Years 7,8,9,10 (IGCSE) – Drama
Year 12 (A-Levels) – Coordinator; Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Asian Scholars Leadership Programme

How long have you been teaching?
15 years

What do you do in your free time?
When I am not planning, managing and administering tasks and keeping up with grading, I love to draw, make and paint models, design games, practise calligraphy, engage in critical thinking training, do stellar astronomical observations (not so much in Malaysia due to light and air pollution), play badminton, do fencing, practise yoga, read and go to the cinemas.

Why did you become a teacher? Why did you choose teaching as a profession?
As a theatre director and fight choreographer, I was teaching actors and technical staff all the time, so it was a natural extension of what I was doing. When you direct or perform, you need a wide range of skills and knowledge base like History, Geography, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science and Economics. The more information you have, the more choices you can make and the more you are able to create situations where true creative synthesis can occur.

Tell us about your own education journey.
I studied at Prince Andrew High School where I had extraordinary teachers in History, Art, Drama and English. These people were an inspiration to me as a young man, challenging my world view and opening my mind. I then worked overseas in international development with Canada World Youth. From there, I went to Dalhousie University for my first degree and then to the N.S. Musical Conservatoire to train in Opera before moving to London and studying at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. I studied with Henry Marshall and Richard Ryan in stage fighting. After that, I completed my teaching certification through Yale while working full time as their Head of Drama.

What is the most memorable moment in your teaching career so far?
The laughter, joy and creative collaboration I have shared with students over the years is by far the most memorable.

What do you like most about teaching?
I love the moments of epiphany, the unhindered imaginations and the boundless curiosity of young students’ minds. I like the fact that students still want to keep in touch with me over the years. Watching them grow, pursue their careers and have families has been an honour. It also means that I have had a positive influence in their life and have left some small legacy in the world that I can be proud of.

What is the best thing about teaching at your school?
There are the constant creative challenges that present themselves, the collaborative and open-minded approach to problem solving with the emphasis on the student, opportunities to help shape a school’s culture, the positivity and genuine affection the staff have for their work, each other and the students. The fact that we are constantly trying to better ourselves and the experience we provide makes me proud to be a part of HELP International School (HIS).

Who or what inspires you?
The people who inspire me are Steven Berkoff, the creator of Total Theatre, Steven Fry, John Oliver, John Stewart, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, NDT2 and Bernie Sanders.

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