An Alumnus Gives Back to His School

Tyrone Figueroa, EBHS Math Teacher

by Cathie Maglio

Math teacher chose home turf over pro gridiron

Let me re-introduce you to a teacher I know at East Boston High School.  I wrote about Tyrone Figueroa in 2018 in the blog post How Tyrone came to be a teacher. He was recently featured in the Boston Globe series on influential Hispanic people in the Boston area, “My NFL Dream didn’t pan out. But now that I’m a teacher and coach, I know I have made it.”

When I first met Tyrone over 5 years ago he was teaching the Senior Math Seminar class at East Boston High. He now teaches 9th graders. When I asked him about the change his response was, “I prefer the older students because they’re less chatty.”  Tyrone continues to use the JFYNet math program with his 9th graders to prepare them for taking the MCAS next year.

Tyrone grew up in East Boston and went to Boston public schools. He is a graduate of the school he now teaches at, East Boston High. In high school he played football and basketball. He was a star running back for the football team and many people thought he had the talent to play professional ball. He knew that to play professional football he needed to go to a Division 1 college or university. He was planning on UMASS Amherst but changed his mind and decided to stay closer to home. He enrolled at Framingham State College, now University, and studied business while playing football and basketball.

How did Tyrone go from thinking of pro football to studying business and then to education? In his words, “My main objective in life is being able to give back. Working at East Boston High, the school I graduated from, allows me to do just that. I am now able to give back to the community that raised me by serving as a positive role model for students and helping prepare them for the future.”

He began forming this objective as a teenager while working at the local YMCA teen center as a teen leader. He worked with youngsters in sports but also with their schoolwork. He became a mentor to the young people. This is where the seed of a career in education was planted. It took time for that seed to grow and blossom. Working with those young people, Tyrone saw the influence he could have in their lives. He went back to school to get a Master of Education degree. He now teaches some of the same students he mentored when they were younger.

“My main objective in life is being able to give back. Working at East Boston High, the school I graduated from, allows me to do just that.”

As a teacher, he can relate to his students because he was just like them at their age. I’ve witnessed his interactions with students, and it’s clear he really cares about them. He wants them to succeed not only in school but in life as well. He tells them his story, how he was once sitting in the same classrooms where they are now. He knows that success in the classroom will build self-esteem, and that going to college and pursuing a career or going into the military will put his students on a path to succeed in life. He teaches the same principles in the classroom that he coaches on the football field as an assistant coach and on the basketball court as head coach. Through his coaching, Tyrone stresses the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, important lessons for life.  

Not many people have the opportunity to give back to the people and community that made them who they are. Tyrone is one of those lucky people. Every student should have a teacher and mentor like him. He shows his gratitude to the community that shaped him every time he climbs the worn granite steps to the front door of the castle on the hill that is East Boston High,  his school.

Cathie Maglio is a JFYNetWorks learning specialist. 

Image source: Still of Vid ‘My Boston History/Mi Historia en Boston’, written by Tyrone Anthony Figueroa

Other posts authored by Cathie can be found here.

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