Mr. John Avallone
Stuyvesant High School
212 312 4800 x-8090 (discouraged)
E-mail : JAvallo@schools.nyc.gov
Please e-mail if at all possible! As of 5/2012: I can no longer guarantee prompt response to email thanks to DOE insistence that I use their address and their continued insistence upon locking me out of access to same.
Before becoming a teacher in 2002, Mr. Avallone worked as an Engineering
Physicist, designing products ranging from medical autotransfusion and blood
purification systems to a cordless nail gun.
He hopes to incorporate his Engineering experience and his appreciation of
Physics as both a practical and theoretical instrument to lead his
students to excel.
MUST READING FOR ALL STUY JUNIORS and
I LOVE this article. It espouses the attitude toward learning and
accomplishment that I hope my students can apply to their lives.
Stressed for Success?
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: New York Times : March 30, 2004
Many of you high school seniors are in a panic at this time of year,
coping with your college acceptance or rejection letters. Since the
admissions process has gone totally insane, it's worth reminding
yourself that this is not a particularly important moment in your life.
You are being judged according to criteria that you would never use to
judge another person and which will never again be applied to you once
you leave higher ed.
For example, colleges are taking a hard look at your SAT scores. But if at
any moment in your later life you so much as mention your SAT scores
in conversation, you will be considered a total jerk. If at age 40 you are
still proud of your scores, you may want to contemplate a major life
More than anything else, colleges are taking a hard look at your grades.
To achieve that marvelous G.P.A., you will have had to demonstrate
excellence across a broad range of subjects: math, science, English,
This will never be necessary again. Once you reach adulthood, the key
to success will not be demonstrating teacher-pleasing competence
across fields; it will be finding a few things you love, and then
committing yourself passionately to them.
The traits you used getting good grades might actually hold you back. To
get those high marks, while doing all the extracurricular activities
colleges are also looking for, you were encouraged to develop a
prudential attitude toward learning. You had to calculate which reading
was essential and which was not. You could not allow yourself to be
obsessed by one subject because if you did, your marks in the other
subjects would suffer. You could not take outrageous risks because you
You learned to study subjects that are intrinsically boring to you; slowly,
you may have stopped thinking about which subjects are boring and
which exciting. You just knew that each class was a hoop you must
jump through on your way to a first-class university. You learned to thrive
in adult-supervised settings.
If you have done all these things and you are still an interesting person,
congratulations, because the system has been trying to whittle you
down into a bland, complaisant achievement machine.
But in adulthood, you'll find that a talent for regurgitating what superiors
want to hear will take you only halfway up the ladder, and then you'll stop
there. The people who succeed most spectacularly, on the other hand,
often had low grades. They are not prudential. They venture out and
thrive where there is no supervision, where there are no preset
Those admissions officers may know what office you held in school
government, but they can make only the vaguest surmises about what
matters, even to your worldly success: your perseverance, imagination
and trustworthiness. Odds are you don't even know these things about
yourself yet, and you are around you a lot more.
Even if the admissions criteria are dubious, isn't it still really important
get into a top school? I wonder. I spend a lot of time meeting with
students on college campuses. If you put me in a room with 15 students
from any of the top 100 schools in this country and asked me at the end
of an hour whether these were Harvard kids or Penn State kids, I would
not be able to tell you.
There are a lot of smart, lively young people in this country, and you will
find them at whatever school you go to. The students at the really elite
schools may have more social confidence, but students at less
prestigious schools may learn not to let their lives be guided by other
people's status rules — a lesson that is worth the tuition all by itself.
As for the quality of education, that's a matter of your actually wanting to
learn and being fortunate enough to meet a professor who electrifies
your interest in a subject. That can happen at any school because good
teachers are spread around, too.
So remember, the letters you get over the next few weeks don't
determine anything. Picking a college is like picking a spouse. You don't
pick the "top ranked" one, because that has no meaning. You pick the
one with the personality and character that complements your own.
Enhancement of the brilliant minds of these students to appreciate not
only the knowledge of Physics itself but the power of problem solving
and rational thought that comes with that knowledge.