DeBlasi awarded West Newsmagazine’s 2023 Teacher of the Year


Samantha Haney

After Sharon Huber reads out Rochelle Bower’s letter to nominate social studies teacher Vince DeBlasi as West Newsmagazine’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, DeBlasi thanks Rochelle. DeBlasi has been a social studies teacher at Lafayette since 2009 and currently teaches World History, Civil War and Reconstruction and Economics and Personal Finance.

Juli Mejia and Samantha Haney

To his surprise, social studies teacher Vince DeBlasi was awarded with West Newsmagazine’s 2023 Teacher of the Year during his 1st Hour World History class on May 16. Every year, the Newsmagazine located in Chesterfield chooses one teacher out of several nominations to recognize. After reading the 200-word letter from senior Luke Bower’s mom, Rochelle Bower, a panel of judges representing the Teacher of the Year program sponsors decided DeBlasi was deserving of the award. Sharon Huber, the owner of West Newsmagazine, was there to award DeBlasi and read out the nomination.

“[Teachers] are our future. They are training our future, they are teaching them how to think, how to be,” Huber said. “They are important and should be recognized.”

A copy of the letter Rochelle wrote nominate social studies Vincent DeBlasi for the Teacher of the Year recognition.

For the nomination, Rochelle wrote a letter to West newsmagazine explaining how DeBlasi had positively impacted Luke. Sharing various reasons DeBlasi deserved the award, Rochelle noted in the letter that he was an inspiration to his students.

“He presents real world academic rigor and doesn’t create an easy path, but a rewarding triumph path for students to conquer difficult material,” Rochelle wrote.

To her, he was the perfect candidate for teacher of the year.

“There were so many positive impacts that I was compelled to recognize him on because he made such a life impact in the most positive way possible,” she said.

The group walked into DeBlasi’s classroom with cake, gifts and a handful of balloons. His wife and son were also there to congratulate him.

“When they first came in, I was like, ‘oh my god what did I do?’ Because Dr. Calcaterra came in first and then the other principals, but then I saw the balloons,” DeBlasi said. “It was definitely a shock, in a good way.”

DeBlasi said it was nice to feel recognized and appreciated as a teacher.

“I don’t think any of us really do this for accolades or awards and all that stuff but I’m not going to lie to you, this is great,” he said. “Words can’t express how gratifying and how fortunate I am to be in this position and for Mrs. Bower. If it weren’t for her, it wouldn’t even have happened.”

In addition to the recognition, DeBlasi said he’s experienced several rewarding moments as a teacher, like helping troubled students become comfortable in class.

“I look back on things and I see that there are five or six kids that have come into my room that maybe weren’t motivated at all in history and mid-way through the semester they are waving their hands, asking questions, wanting to be part of the class and know more. That, to me, is really rewarding,” He said.

DeBlasi also said he was sometimes surprised by students who would be less vocal during class but would later tell him they look up to him. DeBlasi said Luke was an example of a student like this, as Luke took Economics and Personal Finance with DeBlasi his sophomore year and later began asking DeBlasi for letters of recommendations and advice in creating a successful business.

“He was just that kid that was like a sponge that wanted to know more, and he had a business going so it helped. It [led back] to everything that I was teaching in class,” DeBlasi said.

DeBlasi has been a help to Luke’s lawn mowing business. While launching the business, Luke was unsure whether or not he could pay afford certain expenditures. After creating a spreadsheet, Luke’s parents told him to check with DeBlasi.

“When I ran the numbers by him, he was like I totally think you could do it, especially if you gain four extra clients,” Luke said.

DeBlasi’s affirmation led Luke to continue growing his business. As part of the ECP program, Luke has had more time to dedicate to his business and has grown to 25-30 clients. He’s even made his own software to make payments more efficient.

“What makes Mr. DeBlasi so special is that he takes the time to learn about his students’ interests and will try to apply what we’re learning in class to their interest, so students better understand the subject material,” Luke said.

DeBlasi said he tends to see the world in a positive light no matter the obstacles, and as a teacher, he does his best to keep that as his focus.

“In my mind, I think I try to make relationships first. Sometimes, some of the stuff that would normally beat down other people, so to speak, I try not to let that get to me and keep focused on you guys. That’s what’s important to me. Making sure you’re OK,” he said.

In general, Rochelle felt DeBlasi’s constant efforts to be a supportive teacher earned him the recognition.

“Teaching transcends the classroom. Good teaching has a world of impact for all students beyond the classroom doors. Whether it was letters of recommendation or was questions along the way, he did everything he possibly could to help and support my student,” Rochelle said.