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Jason Corrado, a teacher at Jared Eliot Middle School in Clinton, helps train students for the National History Bee. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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Jason Corrado remembers being a high school kid, unsure of what he wanted to do with his life.
“When I was in high school, I felt a lot of pressure to figure out what I wanted to do,” Jason recalls.
Then one day while working in a restaurant, Jason discovered a skill he enjoyed and wanted to do as a career.
“I realized I wanted to be a teacher in high school while working at a restaurant and having to train someone. I found I liked it,” Jason says. “In every job [where] I had the training aspect—whether it was me getting trained or me training someone—was enjoyable. So, teaching always made sense.”
Jason is still teaching today, but instead of training staff he’s training minds as a teacher at the Jared Eliot Middle School in Clinton.
“I had an internship in 2008 to 2009, then got hired as a substitute teacher in 2010. This is my seventh year as a fulltime teacher,” says Jason.
He currently teaches fifth grade students, and has taught fifth graders every year he’s been a teacher except for one.
“I teach English and social studies but before this year I taught all academic courses,” he says.
Things changed this year for Jason because he used to teach at the Abraham Pierson School in Clinton, which was home to grades four and five for many years. However, at the end of last school year the school was closed town and fifth grade was moved to the Eliot school, where Jason moved with them. “I like teaching fifth grade because fifth graders are mature enough to understand world concepts, but are young enough that they’re still excited about school,” Jason explains. Jason was at the Pierson school from 2010 to 2019.
Due to the new grade configurations, that means that Jason only teaches two subjects instead of all of them. Jason says that social studies is his favorite subject to teach. Jason says he majored in political science in college with the goal of being a social studies teacher. “Now I get to teach it to elementary school kids,” says Jason. Asked about why he enjoys social studies so much, Jason replies “I feel like understanding the world is key to being able to make a difference in it.”
As a reflection of his passion for history, Jason works with an after-school club that trains students for The National History Bee.
“This is the sixth year I’ve been doing it. It’s a national competition done all over the country with students from third to 12th grade, says Jason.
“Each year for the past six years I’ve been meeting with a group of kids after school and we talk about history and I teach them how to research,” Jason says. The group beings training in October, and then takes part in an online competition in January. If the students do well in that competition, they are invited to take part in the regional competition, and the winners from the regional competition are invited to the national round. Lately, several of Jason’s students have been able to show off their knowledge at the national round.
“Three years ago, we had one student go to the national round in Atlanta, two years ago a student went to the national round in Chicago, and last year we had three students go to the national round again in Chicago,” Jason proudly notes. Jason was able to attend one of the national rounds with the students and their families, which he says helped prepare him for what kids of questions the students should be ready for.
“It was a lot of fun and after seeing it in person I was able to train them better,” he says.
Jason says the questions are 50 percent about United States history and 50 percent about world history.
“They can literally ask about anything that’s happened in the world. A lot of the questions I don’t know the answers to without looking them up,” Jason admits. Jason says there will be a chance for students to sign up for the group again in January.
Jason says his favorite aspect of teaching in Clinton is “the community here is very tight knit and supportive with great kids.”
Jason lives in Branford and he likes to stay active when he is not working. The teacher can be found being a student at a martial arts school in East Haven, where Jason says he has been training for seven years.
“I’m learning again,” Jason jokes, while noting he’s done martial arts in the past and that he’s learning a new style. Jason also likes to bike, especially when he can use it to explore new cities.
“I’ve biked every town on the shoreline from Mystic to Fairfield,” says Jason. Additionally, Jason says he’s biked in Chicago and France, and that he hopes to someday bike in every town along the shoreline.
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!