David Gesualdi, a graduate student pursuing his Ed.D. in K-12 administration at the School of Education, has been awarded a Standing Ovation Excellence in Classroom Innovation Award from DC Public Schools. Gesualdi is a health and physical education teacher at MacFarland Middle School and Roosevelt Senior High School in Washington, D.C.
Now in his tenth year of teaching, Gesualdi attributes his success to a passion for supporting the growth and achievement of his students. "This award is a reflection of an intentional and unwavering focus on my young people,” said Gesualdi. "In terms of innovation, like all educators who want the best for their students, I have been determined to seek out opportunities that extend learning.”
Seeking a new challenge for himself to grow as an educator brought him to the Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership department at the William & Mary School of Education, where he’s now pursuing an Executive Ed.D. in K-12 administration. The hybrid program combines online instruction with weekend and summer sessions, allowing working professionals to complete a doctoral degree in less than three years.
Having spent so long focusing directly on students, he’s now enjoying the opportunity to explore educational policy and practice from a wider angle. “Our program is providing a macro-lens of education, allowing me to analyze my own worldview and educational philosophy, dive into school-based analytics, understand best practices on meta-analyses and so much more,” he said.
Gesualdi has had numerous opportunities to push his development as an educator, including the PEEL Fellowship, TeachPlus Teaching Policy Fellowship, CityBridge Education Innovation Fellowship, the T3 Initiative and the Capital Commitment Fellowship. Each has challenged him to make his teaching more intentional, and has yielded new learning opportunities for his students.
By applying design thinking to his teaching, Gesualdi focuses on being empathetic to his students' needs, wants, interests and triggers. "I get to know my students, reserve all judgment and define problems based on the learning, not on a test score,” he said. "My hope is that this award will provide other practitioners an example of how bucking a trend while remaining unapologetically focused on students can yield unimaginable results.”
With interests in personalized learning, user-centered learning experiences and turnaround programs that focus on child trauma and poverty, Gesualdi hopes to eventually lead a mission-driven non-profit organization or network of high-performing schools. “I’m a strong believer in autonomous practices for teachers, and I’m determined to help lead this change for the profession."