Ryan Cassidy took the long way to an 8th grade classroom in North East.

He taught for 14 years in the Erie School District. Before that, this 8th grade history teacher was a social worker for five years. He said he decided to give that career up to go back to school to be a teacher.

“I took a job at Starbucks making some lattes while I went to school at night. It was a different perspective. For me, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed teaching at 20 right out of high school. I needed this perspective.” sand Ryan Cassidy, Golden Apple Award winner.

Because students lead complex lives, his social work experience has been valuable as he helped young people with life in and out of school.

“I met very few teachers who care about the well-being of their students and how they feel about school and what they’re learning and him actually doing that for his students is making a lot of difference,” said Sienna Ellsworth, Student Nominator.

Ellsworth says Mr. Cassidy makes her want to come to school and want to learn. So, what’s the magic?

“Teaching a subject you love and understanding why it’s important for them so it becomes real and relevant. If you believe in it, they’ll believe in it as well,” Cassidy said.

“Mr. Cassidy is kind, fun, loving, trustworthy. I think, most important, he wants to be in the classroom with students. Because of that, they want to be there and they want to learn,” said Dr. Mary Jo Melvin, Edinboro University.

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Congratulations to Ryan Cassidy! You are this week’s JET 24 and Edinboro University Golden Apple Award winner.