2021 Teachers of the Year: Dominic Marchi of Bishop Watterson High School
Teaching is a calculated effort for this Columbus resident, who strives to ensure his students can apply math lessons to the world around them.
Through a passion for mathematics and a willingness to go above and beyond to ensure his students’ success, Dominic Marchi has helped countless Bishop Watterson High School students not just comprehend the subject, but perhaps even enjoy it, too.
Colleagues praise his dedication both to his craft and the students he has taught for the last 14 years at Watterson, where he chairs the Mathematics Department and teaches multiple classes, from algebra to AP Calculus BC and AP Statistics.
Marchi was named the high school winner in the Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News 2021 Teachers of the Year awards.
“[Students] know he wants them to learn and he’ll do whatever it takes,” says Deacon Chris Campbell, Watterson’s principal. “He’s here before the school day starts, and he’s here long after school. … Any kids that need help, as long as they want to stay, he’s there.”
For this year’s Teachers of the Year awards (the eighth year for the recognition program), we received a record 152 nominations from school districts all over Central Ohio. Educators were nominated by their peers, administrators, parents, students and family members. Nominations were taken online from Dec. 10 to Jan. 14. The editorial staffs of Columbus Parent and ThisWeek reviewed all the submissions, did some independent research and narrowed the list to 15 finalists. Readers voted from Feb. 24 to March 24 to determine the three winners.
Marchi, 39, grew up in Gahanna and earned a bachelor of science in integrated mathematics at Bowling Green State University in 2005 and a master’s in education from Ohio State University in 2012. He taught in 2006-07 for Zanesville City Schools before joining the Watterson staff. He now lives with his wife, Angela, and children, Clara, 5, and Peter, 2, in Columbus’ Sharon Woods neighborhood.
Driven by a belief that teaching math was a calling from God, Marchi strives to challenge students to build their knowledge and skills. “I believe in having high expectations for all of my students, regardless of whether the class is AP Calculus BC or Algebra I,” he says. “Each student is going to work hard and experience success. However, the definition of success will change for each student and each course.
“Holding them to those high expectations is how you will get students to learn and grow.”
Abby Teeters, who nominated Marchi for the Teachers of the Year honor, taught art at Watterson from 2009 to 2016 and has been the school’s associate administrator since 2019. “When I was an art teacher, the students would talk about Mr. Marchi and how much they liked being in his classes,” Teeters says. “Now, seeing it firsthand, he always sets examples for teachers and students. He provides every material and every resource that the students could possibly need, no questions asked.”
In addition to putting in extra hours to help students, she says, he frequently chaperones school events and trips. “He’s always willing to go the extra mile, not only for the students, but for the betterment of the school,” Teeters says.
Marchi says through the years he’s been at Watterson, instruction via classroom blackboards and written homework assignments has given way to computer tablets and online apps that he uses to teach new content. Still, nothing fully prepared him for teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the past school year, Watterson’s staff taught classes virtually as well as through a hybrid model where half the students were in class and the other half followed along via a live Zoom feed. Marchi says the experience was trying, not only because he had to learn new technologies and how to teach with half the students out of the classroom, but because removing students “takes the joy out of the job.”
Another impact of the pandemic is that teachers have had to be more cognizant of how students feel. “Losing or modifying traditional extracurricular activities like sports competitions, concerts and dances has really had a negative impact on the morale of the students,” Marchi says. “We as teachers have tried to become more aware of the social and emotional needs of our students.”
Moving forward, he wants to continue seeking new approaches to teaching and learning that can help each student find success. “The ultimate goal for students as they graduate high school is to be able to reason about the world around them from a mathematical viewpoint,” Marchi says. “The beauty of mathematics is that it is so easily and readily applied to the world around you.”
“I would also hope that my students realize that while I love mathematics, I care more about them and their success—both in my classroom and in life after my class.”
Nate Ellis is a reporter for ThisWeek Community News.
This story is from the Summer 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.