“Generous, Understanding, Passionate, and Committed.” These are just a few words that faculty and students use to describe Mr. Vaspasiano, or more commonly known as Mr. Vass.
Mr. Vass graduated from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut as a Sociology Major. He later returned to receive his Masters of Art and Teaching. Mr. Vass jumped around from job to job, firstly in retail, then heavy construction, and finally into the chemical industry. It wasn't until his son Anthony was born that he began to coach baseball. Coaching baseball and seeing children winning games, and seeing the inspiration on their faces inspired him to return to teaching.
Mr. Vaspasiano has taught at East Haven High School since 1994, during his time here he has taught US History, Sociology, Introduction to Psychology, and the Study of the Holocaust. Mr. Marangell, Social Studies Instructional Leader at EHHS and 18 year long colleague says Mr. Vass as a teacher is, “Very hands on, so he likes to do activities that’s gets student involved in what their learning about. He is also very interested in reaching out to the community, so whatever students are doing in class it also applies to what is going on in the world.” Not only does Mr. Vass teach many classes he is also heavily involved in the school community.
Apart from being a teacher Mr. Vass has been an advisor to EHHS local Chapter SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) for 20 years. As an advisor Mr. Vass guides students on activities they should be participating in to spread the message on destructive decisions so that students are aware that the decisions they make today not only affects themselves but those around them, hopefully students will make positive choices. Through the usage of SADD many impactful contributions have been made to the school and town community such as participating in the Columbus Day Parade, volunteering at the Annual East Haven Fall Festival, the Mock Car Crash to bring awareness to the dangers of drunk driving, Tweed New Haven Airport Crash in collaboration with the FBI and the Federal Government and many more activities. One of their biggest accomplishments is the student and faculty basketball game against the Harlem Wizards hat has been for a success for three years, every time with a packed gym.
Before SADD, Mr. Vass was an advisor to the MultiCultural club, which brought together students from different backgrounds throughout the high school. This club brought awareness to the multiple cultures present at EHHS, often teaming up with surrounding towns such as Amity, Shelton, and New Haven for their International Day. Due to the MultiCultural club being state funded, the club has sadly been shut down.
In the classroom students find his class interesting due to his hands on approach to teaching and for his empathy. EHHS Junior Manuela Carvalho describes him as, “A cool teacher, he’s really understanding and doesn’t give as much work because he knows we might have other heavy classes.” Besides being teacher to his students, Mr. Vass has been a great personal resource that students feel they can go to, again Manuela Carvalho said, “He helped me when I was having some serious personal problems. I thought it was someone I could go talk to if I really needed, he’s let me go into the SADD room and work on my assignments alone in there when he noticed I was on a verge of emotional times.”
One of the most prevailing terms used to describe Mr. Vass is committed. As Mr. Marangell puts it; “ [He’s] committed to the students at the school and to the community and even beyond the community, to the world. If there are things going on in the world that are affecting people. He’s always one of the first people to start an initiative that’s helps them out, or to do a fundraiser, or some sort of campaign to raise awareness of different things and that’s something you can always rely on him for.”
After Mr. Vass is retired and relaxing on a sunny beach, he hopes one message students continue to take away from their high school experience is to, “Continue to make the right decisions, but also continue to spread the message to other people, even if it’s in college, or in the community.”
Photos Credited to Mr. Vass