This former engineer found his calling helping students understand science.
Middle School Winner
Genoa Middle School, Westerville City School District
A midlife career change took Genoa Middle School’s Eric “Scott” Delligatti out of the corporate world and into the classroom. When his company was sold, the engineer decided to take his passion for science and put it to use in a new way.
That passion, among other qualities, led Delligatti to be named the middle school winner in the Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News 2019 Teachers of the Year awards.
The recognition took Delligatti, who teaches sixth- and eighth-grade science, by surprise—though he says he was thrilled and humbled by the honor. “It’s one of those things,” he says. “Humbled is the best word. The kids kept asking, ‘Why don’t you want to win?’ When you work with great people, you don’t feel deserving.”
The Gahanna resident, 53, says he works among fantastic teachers at Genoa, whose staff he joined in 2008 to teach sixth- and eighth-grade science and math.
Fellow sixth-grade science teacher Jessica Meginnis says Delligatti devotes a lot of extra time to his job and genuinely cares about his students. “He goes above and beyond, remembering things about them and their siblings, how they did in a particular quarter and encouraging them,” she says. “He has a really high expectation for them with assignments and things, but he also supports them along the way. He makes certain they reach whatever goal they want to reach.”
Meginnis says Delligatti always keeps parents in the loop and is enthusiastic about the topic he teaches. “He has a real passion for science, and he wants the kids to enjoy it, too, whether that’s their favorite subject or not,” she says. “He definitely gets them thinking about it.”
Meginnis, who was in her third year of teaching when Delligatti came to Genoa, served as his mentor. “He has all kinds of ideas, and he will share them in a heartbeat and work with any of us on the sixth-grade team,” she says. “Scott is very deserving of this award.”
For this year’s Teachers of the Year awards (the sixth year for the project), readers nominated educators from school districts all over Central Ohio. Nominations were taken online Jan. 2-30. The editorial staffs from Columbus Parent and ThisWeek reviewed all of the submissions, did some independent research and chose 15 finalists, who were voted on by the public March 7-27. Three winners were chosen: one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Delligatti was honored April 26 during a surprise presentation in his classroom, which was attended by Superintendent John Kellogg and M. Scott Reeves, the district’s executive director of secondary academic affairs.
Principal Scott Gaddis recalls one of his first experiences with Delligatti when he joined Genoa a year ago. “He was teaching summer intervention for our students,” Gaddis says. “I got to see his passion for teaching and his creativeness and the interaction of the students with him.”
Delligatti was nominated by an administrator, who wrote that his classroom is a safe space where students feel comfortable taking risks and learning. “Mr. Delligatti is an extremely caring teacher who works tirelessly to help get his students to achieve their fullest potential. Former students are always coming back to check in and let him know how they are doing. This shows how strong of a relationship he builds with the students he teaches and their families,” the nomination said.
Education wasn’t the first career choice for the 1983 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate. Delligatti got a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Ohio State University in 1988 and worked as an engineer at General Electric for many years. “GE sold the business I worked for, and there was an opportunity to do something I was passionate about,” he says. “I started going to school and ended up being a math and science teacher.” He earned a master’s in education from Otterbein College, as the school was then known, in 2008.
“You teach for the kids,” he adds. “You want them to enjoy school.”
He says the students make the job fun, interesting, challenging and rewarding. “The great thing about this age group is they’re growing out of elementary age,” Delligatti says. “They’re becoming the person they’re going to be. It’s fun to watch how they grow.”
Delligatti and his wife, Stephanie, have a son, Sam, who recently graduated from OSU, and a daughter, Emily, who’s a college student.
Marla K. Kuhlman is a reporter for ThisWeek Community News.