Remembering Mr. Cataldo
Photo by Mr. Priedemann
This week we were given the sad news that Mr. Cataldo has passed away and I wanted to talk about him. Last spring, I wrote a WiNK article talking about his retirement and had the pleasure of interviewing him about his time at Wooster. You can read that here.
As someone who wasn’t lucky enough to experience Mr. Cataldo in the classroom, I was touched by him even though I never had him as a teacher. This is a terrible loss for the Wooster community. If you also didn’t get the privilege of seeing him in the classroom, or didn’t know him, Mr. Cataldo was one of the best people I have ever met in my life. He spent an amazing 24 years at Wooster, and he had just retired this past spring. Mr. Cataldo loved Wooster, and he loved the philosophy of learning that Wooster believes in. In an interview I did with him, he said while referring to his teaching style, that “it’s more about getting kids to listen, I think good teaching is also a good performance. It's not being afraid to laugh, not being afraid to take 5 or 10 minutes to talk about the weekend, some of the absurdities in life because I think it enriches the environment and it also gets kids in a good place to do the more traditional setup.” Even though I was never one of his students, he had a huge impact on me, my family, and especially my brother, Charlie, who graduated from Wooster in 2022.
Mr. Cataldo was an amazing soul. He loved to laugh, to make jokes, to teach, and he wasn't afraid to tell someone the brutal, honest truth. Since I didn’t get to have him in class, I can only speak through my brother's eyes, and I am very lucky that they had an amazing relationship with each other. Charlie had Mr. Cataldo twice over the seven years he spent at Wooster. My brother loves history, and Mr. Cataldo changed my brother's perspective on history through his style of teaching. Mr. Cataldo was a big believer in differences of opinion. He loved to debate and would like to take the less favored side even if it was the worse side. In my interview he also had to say, “I also believe in the Socratic method. Think of the 180 degrees, an argument is never one size fits all there's always another perspective that can be understood. You don't have to agree with it but at least you recognize it’s there and it may have credibility.”
A great memory that I have of Mr. Cataldo is from my brother's 8th grade history. He had Mr. Cataldo, and while Charlie was in a math class with Dr. Taraz, Mr. Cataldo walked in and asked for my brother, saying, “I need Aspillaga.” Charlie then walked out and walked back in soon after. Now, Dr. Taraz, thinking it was something pretty serious to be pulled out of class, asked my brother why Cataldo wanted him. My brother then says that he asked him whether he should watch Game of Thrones or read the books first. Charlie is a big fan of both and Cataldo knew that Charlie would be the one to ask. Now, it is stuff like that that made people love him. He could be so serious and silly at the same time. For me, while interviewing him, in the 15 minutes I spent, it made me truly understand why everyone loves him, and for me, it was all of the jokes, silliness , and also seriousness that he was about; you could just tell that at every moment of the day he was having a good time. I know that he is in a better place now, but he will be missed in the Wooster community, and he left us too soon.
- Love Gus