What is your educational background?
DP: I went to Glenbard West freshman year, then transferred to Springfield, PA, and graduated from there in 1969. Went one year to Brandywine College in Delaware; transferred to Missouri Valley College in Marshall, MO, where I was an undergrad triple major and double minor. I did my student teaching through Rosary College (now Dominican University, River Forest, IL) and earned master’s credit at UIC.
What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
DP: I was a DJ [disc jockey] in college, worked briefly downtown and delivered pizzas in Forest Park for Uncle Dom’s, which is no longer in business. Then I became a truant officer for Proviso East H.S. (Cook County Sheriff’s Dept.) and started my coaching career there as well. I started my full-time coaching career at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westchester. In 1992, I left IHM and started my 29-year run here at Fenwick.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
DP: I enjoy coaching at clinics, collecting vinyl [records] and playing arcade games. I have a huge collection of vintage billiard memorabilia. I also like hanging out with my daughter Erin’s dog, Griffin.
To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
DP: I played basketball, ran track and was in the chess club in high school. In college, it was track, intramurals, radio, one-act plays and spring musicals. I also worked with kids with disabilities who enjoyed playing wheelchair basketball.
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
DP: I’ve been the head coach of cross country, softball and basketball, and an assistant coach for volleyball and boys’ golf. I was the school’s Pep Rally emcee for 15 years!
What quality/characteristics marks a Fenwick student?
DP: Friar students are studious and athletic. Fenwick takes pride in students being the best that they can be in both academics and athletics. I count all clubs and activities in this category as well.
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
DP: I decided to become a teacher in 1977 while at Proviso East. I fell in love with coaching, but it wasn’t an easy decision. I had a job lined up at WGN, but as I sat in the Lane Tech parking lot across from WGN I decided not to go through with it. I knew that if I did, I’d never be able to coach.
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
DP: I try to bring humor and life lessons and try to keep our students engaged in the classroom. Some of my stories to help make a point are fictitious, but I don’t let them know that!
What are your favorite classes to teach?
DP: I think my favorite teaching takes place on the court or on the field. For me, that’s the best classroom there is.
What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?
DP: Winning the 2007 state championship with my daughter, Erin – especially when second place was not going to do.
What challenges face students today?
DP: Dealing with COVID, of course, and bouncing back from it. So much is going on in the world. Some of it isn’t very good. When I was in their seat in high school, we faced some tough challenges as well: Vietnam comes to mind. I believe in our students, that they will help make the world a more peaceful and just world for all. I’m confident that they will lead the way to a better future!