An Interview With New Teacher John Pagano


Rose Houglet

What’s your name? Do you have a nickname? (Do you prefer Ms. or Mrs.?)
My name is John Lawrence Pagano. I go by Mr Pagano. I don’t really have a nickname. Sometimes, my family calls me Captain…it’s a long story that started with a series of wrong numbers I would get on my cell phone all looking for a legitimate Navy captain.

What subjects do you teach?
I teach Intro to Robotics and Intro to Engineering

What did you teach before coming to Laguna?
Before Laguna, I was the STEM Coordinator at a large afterschool program. I managed and taught at over a dozen different schools to different age levels.

How did you find out about Laguna?
A friend who worked at Laguna many years ago saw that there was an opening for a STEM teacher. He told me about it, and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I love making a difference in young learner’s lives. There isn’t enough diversity in the professional world of STEM careers, and I want to change that. With the right drive, any student regardless of gender-identity, race, economic status, or anything else… can be successful in an engineering career. I want to show all students that they can do it.

Where are you from originally?
Originally, I am from the East Coast. I moved from Philly

about 5 years ago to California.

How did you spend your summer?
I spent my summer working at a STEM summer camp. It was hard, and the days were long. But I love being around children and promoting science.

What was your favorite class in high school? What about in college?
My favorite class in high school was Visual Art. I have a creative side and I love to express it. In college, my favorite classes are Creative Writing and Educational Theory.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I build things. I am just finishing a major project at my house. I built an office in my backyard…yes, an office. My wife works from home and never really had a good place to do it, so I poured a foundation and built her an office. I’ve done almost all of the work myself, down to the wood floors and USB charging outlets. I’ve already got my next three projects lined up, but none of them will be as big as the office. I’m designing a custom lamp for our kitchen with pulleys and cords. I’m creating a purse for my wife made out of antique Scrabble boards. And I just started collecting parts for a hidden door to be built into a bookcase, complete with a hidden book activation trigger.

How would you describe your handwriting?My handwriting is terrible. I mix upper and lower case letters. My brain usually goes faster than my hand can write. If I have to share something, you’d better hope it’s typed!

Do you have any pets? What kind? Do you ever bring them to school?
We have three dogs. Darwin: 2ish-year-old pitbull, Sherlock: 6-year-old mutt, and Watson: 4-year-old mini-poodle. In my previous roles, I brought then to work, but one at a time. Darwin is a lover, and he will gladly give anyone who stops moving long enough really big, wet kisses.

What is one of the funniest experiences that you’ve had while teaching?
While teaching a robotics class to a group of 18 kindergartners, one of them misheard my name. Instead of Mister John, he heard MYSTERIOUS JOHN. Eventually, the whole class called me Mysterious John. At the school’s Science Night, he ran up to me and introduced me to his parents. His parents were shocked to find out that I was a real person, and not his imaginary friend who like robots.

What are you most excited about for this year?
I’m most excited to become part of the Laguna Family. I am looking forward to being in a classroom full time and getting to know my students.