Position: Physical Education Teacher
School: Egg Harbor Township High School
School District: Egg Harbor Township Board of Education
City, State: Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
About the Nominee: Michael Caiazza was nominated by Michael Previti, a member of the community. Coach Caiazza defines the word LifeChanger. He has had a positive impact across his community for over 30 years as a Physical Education teacher and wrestling coach. In order to understand how drastic this impact is, however, one must read Michael's story.
When Michael started high school, he was an unmotivated teenager. He wasn't involved in clubs, struggled academically and didn't make the best choices in friends. He first met Coach in 1987 as a freshman in gym class, where Coach encouraged him to try out for the wrestling team. At first, Michael was resistant, but after two years of persistence, he decided to give it a try. As it turned out, he really enjoyed it. When Coach realized that Michael's grades were mediocre at best, he pulled him aside. Coach made Michael come to his office every day after school so he could make sure he was doing his homework. It wasn’t that Michael needed a tutor, but he needed the push to dedicate some time to learning. At that point, he realized how much Coach cared, not only for him, but for everyone around him. Michael's grades changed dramatically; he went from ranking in the lower third of his class to graduating in the top third. Coach pushed his athletes to do other sports in the off-season to stay in shape and, more importantly, stay out of trouble.
Michael made lifelong friends through the wrestling team, friends who feel the same way about Coach that he does. Coach teaches his athletes that if they want to do well, they will have to work hard. He teaches them respect and other life skills that have proved to carry over into life after high school.
According to Michael, Coach came into his life at a very crucial time. If it wasn't for Coach, Michael isn't sure if he'd be as successful as he is today. Coach brought out the drive and motivation it takes to succeed in this world. He taught Michael values and the work ethic that guides his professional and personal life. Every day, Michael tries to pass these on to his own children, like Coach Caiazza did for him.