Originally published Jan. 18, 2022 by RochesterFirst.com

By Ally Peters

Congratulations to our next Golden Apple Award winner — Phil LaPietra!

For more than 20 years, LaPietra has been teaching physical education at Rochester’s John Williams School No. 5. He’s made a big impact, both on and off the field.

“It fills me with such great sense of pride. Phil LaPietra, he really deserves this award because not only does he show love and compassion for his students, but he supports his school community,” said Terrilyn Hammond, the Principal of John Williams School No. 5.

Michael Roselli has worked alongside LaPietra for the past two years, but said he’s known him for a long time. He nominated him for the Golden Apple award.

“He’s a great guy and he’s truly invested in what he does,” Roselli said. “He’s my Scottie Pippen. We team-teach together, so we have a lot of laughs and encouraging the kids is basically what we’re trying to do on a daily basis.”

LaPietra also coaches a number of different sports and it was coaching that led him to become a teacher.

“I wanted to be coach first when I was in high school and that was my first passion,” LaPietra said. “Then when I went to college, I learned that there’s so much to coaching is to be a great teacher. So along with that aspect, I kind of built my repertoire as a coach to be a teacher first.”

For more than two decades, LaPietra has been at School No. 5. Hammond said he runs a very likable program for all students.

“They put together engaging lessons that kids really enjoy and they love coming to PE and he holds them to a standard of knowing what sportsmanship is like, collaboration, team playing and respect,” Hammond said.

She adds the PE program LaPietra runs includes things like bowling, archery and rhythm, and it’s very impressive.

“I am very proud of this program. The work that LaPietra does, I could go on and on about this man, we love him. He is very deserving,” Hammond said.

Roselli said it’s LaPietra’s loyalty to his kids that make him such a great teacher.

“He goes above and beyond on a daily basis for the enrichment of the students and of the school as a whole,” Roselli said.

Upon receiving the award, LaPietra thanked his colleagues for their support, especially during the pandemic.

“I’m very humbled by all of my colleagues here,” LaPietra said. “I don’t like all of the the fanfare but you know, it takes a huge family and a lot of humble people to do what we’ve done the last two years. So I thank all my colleagues for joining me in the effort and the fight.”

He adds that his favorite part of being a teacher and coach is getting to see the kids grow and develop.

“I see these kids from the time that they’re kindergarteners through eighth grade, and hopefully put them on to the next step in life and it’s all positive coming through,” LaPietra said.

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