Alumnus takes physical education to new heights

July 03, 2023

Photo of alumnus Jesse Cala with his degree

When Jesse Cala, MS ’22, would go on hikes at the Sleeping Giant State Park during the COVID-19 pandemic, he admired the picturesque view of Quinnipiac and began to imagine himself as a student there. Cala decided to put his dreams into action and became a part of the special education master’s program shortly after.

As a physical education teacher, Cala began to widen his knowledge and learn more about the profession that he fell in love with during high school.

“This program increased my knowledge on the ability to determine and to teach all kinds of learners,” said Cala. “I really would advocate that any and all future educators get their special education degree as it has opened my eyes to many new ways of teaching and understanding all learners in a different way.”

On top of teaching Cala important and relevant information, the special education master’s program also helped him become more confident as an educator.

“This program has given me the confidence to modify and adapt to every child’s needs in order for them to be more successful,” said Cala. “I use theories I learned from Quinnipiac to implement into my lesson plans and collaborate with the special education teachers at my school to make their lesson plans and activities more attainable for all learners.”

Cala is currently an elementary school physical education teacher at Orchard Hills School in Milford and witnesses the importance of physical education daily.

“There are many reasons why physical education is a vital part of children’s education, whether it’s to be more active to avoid becoming overweight, lower stress levels or improve mental health,” said Cala. “I truly love seeing children learn through play and improving their social interactions, inevitably strengthening some of the most important fundamental conversational skills they’ll ever have.”

With the help of his education at Quinnipiac, Cala finds himself constantly going above and beyond for his students to give them the highest quality education possible.

“I do my best to help every child succeed, whether it is through exercising, playing in the classroom or even simply with laughter,” he said. “I try to do my best every day for them. I plan weekly and reflect daily on what worked well and what I can do next time for my students to enjoy the lesson more and reach their goals."

When it comes to inspiration, Cala says he finds it in those that have supported him in his life journey including family, friends, professors, colleagues, coaches and students.

Cala urges others to find a career that they’re passionate about and truly, wholeheartedly enjoy.

“I believe that if people learn, laugh and love every day and work hard and have fun with anything they do, they’ll be more successful,” said Cala. “As a teacher, I find myself doing all of those things daily and it never feels like I am at work. It’s an amazing career and I am very happy that Quinnipiac helped shape me into the educator I am today.”

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