Whether he’s coaching soccer, hosting a dorm feed, or teaching chemistry, Ozzie Parente is working hard, having fun, and loving every minute of it. His is a name you often hear when Taftie’s talk turns to favorite teachers.
“I pride myself on knowing my students really well,” Parente says. “Kids are really forgiving if you’re honest with them and are just yourself.”
Parente is known for playing music as kids walk into his class, for his upbeat demeanor, and for his corny jokes. In addition to teaching chemistry and coaching soccer, he’s also a dean of the upper mid class, thirds’ boys’ basketball coach, assistant girls’ softball coach, and, famously, the Commissioner of PSBL (Pre-Study Ball League), the wildly popular, coed student and faculty recreational softball league that the whole school looks forward to every spring.
“PSBL has taken on a life of its own,” Parente says. “It’s a great chance for the kids to have unstructured fun, to make their own calls, their own lineups. And the faculty team is super competitive.”
What’s the best part of teaching at Taft?
“I love coaching and teaching chemistry. But what l like most about my job is having interactions and conversations with students. Every lunch block I’m in my office and students cycle through, just to chat. Yeah, it’s part of my job, but it’s my favorite part. Being a dean, a coach, and a dorm parent makes you a better teacher. If you go to your student’s play or coffee house performance, they’re going to trust you and give you more of themselves in the classroom.”