I have collected here some of the best evidence in support of my teaching to help you understand the impact my thinking-centered program of study has on young learners. The most potent evidence is from former students who reached out to me as adults many years after we worked together. I also received letters from parents years after teaching their children. I am honored that they sought me out to share their thoughts with me. Following this, I will include other unsolicited notes I received from current and recent students and parents.
I will do this in two formats. The first will be a brief set of quotes to communicate with you succinctly. The second, longer set covers the same letters but did not pare them down, providing additional detail and context. It also adds additional notes not included in the first brief set to give you additional perspectives. If you want the whole enchilada, just skip to Testimonials in Depth.
From Unsolicited Notes Written Years After Working with Me
Seventh Grade Language Arts & Social Studies remains one of the most important (if not the most important) classes I've ever taken... I use the critical thinking and writing skills you taught us all the time when arguing for clients.
- A graduate of Groton School, Yale University, Stanford Law School; presently working as a public defender
[Y]our class had a tremendous impact on my learning! I'm now getting a Masters in Education, and I think all the time about the content we covered in your class: the learning curve, critical thinking, mapping causal connections, deconstructing "civilization." I think your class was more rigorous than anything I've taken since at Columbia, or here at the Harvard Ed School.
- A graduate of Columbia Univ. and the Harvard Graduate School of Education
I just wanted to thank you for the skills you gave me when I was a kid. I think they probably are likely to account for all of my success in high school and most of my success in college.
- Written as a senior at U.C. Berkeley; at present a Doctor of Pediatrics at University of California at San Francisco
I wanted to reach out to you so I could tell you how important your teachings have been to me in retrospect. Critical thinking, specifically. It is the core philosophy that I live my life by. It shaped the way I see my world and my place in it… The things you taught me had the most profound and lasting impact… [Y]ou imparted rationality and important life skills that became my foundation moving forward. [
- A graduate of the University of Southern California Film School and Hollywood filmmaker
Reflecting on what you've taught me throughout the years, you were not only a great academic influence, but showed me what it means to be passionate about something.
- Written in her first year at the University of Puget Sound
To you we attribute her excellent writing skills, her appreciation for history, and most importantly, her ability to think for herself… [W]e would like to express our appreciation for your efforts in working with our children to infuse skills that not only applied to a course of study at the time, but that have been applicable and reusable ever since, and will continue to be throughout their lives.
- Parents writing at graduation from Saint Ignatius College Preparatory
[F]or me, you represent teaching at its very best. You challenged and stretched the students, made them want to do their best, inspired them to ask questions and to think in a probing manner, and made the material—even the dreaded Forest People—interesting to them.
- A parent, founding Trustee, and Board Chair of San Francisco Day School, written upon my departure
I’m sure you know what a huge impression you have made on many classes of Day School students… You represent so much of what is special about SFDS and why our children are successful after they graduate.
- A parent, founding Trustee, and Board Chair of San Francisco Day School
[Our eldest daughter] says she uses skills she learned from you in her day to day [scientific] research work…
- Parents of three children I taught at San Francisco Day School
From Current and Recent 6th - 8th Grade Students and Parents
From sixth to eighth grade I have grown so much from your teaching and I have honestly noticed a major difference in my thinking… I would have been a completely different person and would have thought differently if not for you. I am able to think for myself now…
You have taught me the skills I need to investigate topics and learn. For three years you taught me many things that other teachers would not have. You gave us a unique and amazing education.
I love that you will only accept the best from all of us, and that pushes us to excel… I feel like I have improved a lot in writing, critical thinking, and my reading comprehension.
Mr. Trapasso, you have not only inspired me to do great things, but you have changed me in a good way… I am not only smarter, have more tools in my pockets, but I am a better person because of you… I also want to say a huge thank you for believing in me when I didn’t and for pushing me to do better…
The way I look at the world and the way I do things is so vividly different than before… The way you teach and present information is not like anybody else does.
You helped me see who I am and what I could be in the future.
[Y]ou have slowly added different perspectives of the world, and you have helped me see the world differently.
Our sincere gratitude for inspiring [our son] to learn again. We continue to witness the passion you bring out in him and the change is remarkable… Words cannot express how truly grateful we are.
- From parents, followed by a note from their son
Thank you for being such an outstanding teacher… I am so grateful for how much you believe in me and my growth.
- Their son
From Letters for Recommendation from Schools, Parents, and Students
John has been a teacher at San Francisco Day School for the past fourteen years and has been an inspiration to students and colleagues alike during his tenure. As head of school, I have seen John grow as a teacher to become one of the finest faculty on our entire staff. He has always been an extremely talented and engaging teacher, one who has magic in the classroom. He inspires and encourages students to reach beyond their limitations to new heights in their achievement…
I have found John to have the most wonderful personal qualities requisite to being a good teacher: hardworking, dedicated, professional to the highest degree, able to work well with others, compassionate, ethical, and responsible. In fact, I cannot think of an essential skill he is lacking.
- Jim Telander, Head of San Francisco Day School
John is a master teacher. The workshops he conducted for the Center received high evaluations… The many outstanding thinking-based projects he designed and continually refined in his classroom served as a rich resource for other educators…
We believe that John is an outstanding educator and, beyond the fine work he has already done, has the ability to make significant contributions to the field in the future… John is one of the rare teachers doing the hard work necessary to develop his own thinking skills and to create an exemplary thinking-centered classroom.
- Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder, Directors, Foundation for Critical Thinking
From John… I learned the practice of rigor and the pleasures of intellectual curiosity. He instilled in me the conviction that my mind was a capable instrument. What a powerful lesson for a young girl to learn!
The creativity and excitement of his curriculum—as mere 7th graders we studied texts ranging from ethnographic studies to Bob Dylan lyrics—was unrivalled by anything I’ve experienced since, including my years at Brown University. Which is really saying something.
- Molly Young, a graduate of Brown University and writer for The New York Times
Over the years, John became a legend with the students. He had extremely high expectations for them and knew they could and would succeed with his guidance… [He] believed all his students could reach an academic level they had never believed possible. He made them think, write, question, and learn… He knows and understands young children and has a deep respect for their abilities.
- Sally Rosenblatt, a parent, founding Trustee, and Board Member of San Francisco Day School
It was immediately apparent that John was one of the rare teachers whom children seldom experience but whose impact is deep and long-lasting… Whether teaching The Ohlone Way or presiding over a trial of Charlemagne conducted by his students, John made learning fun, stimulating his students’ imagination and sparking their desire to ask questions about and seek answers to large historical questions.
- Leslie Hume, a parent, founding Trustee, and Board Chair of San Francisco Day School