Teacher Appreciation Week: Chef Matthew Petrillose at GFHS

Glens Falls City School District recognizes national Teacher Appreciation Week by highlighting committed and enthusiastic teachers from every one of our schools each day of the week! Read on for an inside interview with Chef Matthew Petrillose—one of the most dynamic teachers around our district.

group of cullinary students stand with their teacher, with one holding a beautiful plate of blueberry pancakes that smells delicious

Chef Matthew Petrillose graduated from Burnt Hills High School and has degrees from SUNY Oneonta in Secondary Education in Social Studies, SUNY SCCC in Hotel Restaurant Management, SUNY SCCC in Nanoscale Materials Science, and SUNY IT (Now SUNY PI) in Electrical Engineering Technology. This is his 14th year teaching, having taken a break between 2012 and 2022 to first work in Computer Chip Manufacturing (CNSE/GlobalFoundries) then later in Electrical Engineering (NYPA). It is his second year here at Glens Falls High School.

What makes your teaching and learning environment unique?
I would like to tell you that I have some magic elixir here that allows me to FACS in such a way that it’s novel and fresh. However, I don’t. The topics that I teach are what engage the students and make the learning environment unique — more so than myself as a teacher. All I really do is provide guidelines to reach what the students are already motivated to do. Extrinsic motivation from me would be meaningless and likely fruitless. It is what the students carry in them that allows for an engaging and unique learning environment. In short, my job is to get out of the way and let the learning happen.

Chef and student in culinary class share a laugh while plating hot blueberry pancakes
Chef Matthew Petrillose teaches family and consumer sciences at Glens Falls High School

Why do you think it’s important to teach the way you do?
It is the only way I can think of to keep meaningful and fruitful learning happening. It is what the students expect. If I break with those expectations, I am at a loss from the very beginning. It starts and ends with providing for student expectations. After that, it is winding a clock. The lessons enjoyed the most by students — and that I have enjoyed the most — have needed me the least.

Describe your best lesson ever, or one you and students really enjoy.
My best lesson ever is my next one. At least that is the way I think. I am a victim of my own hope. Hope that I can keep improving things. Hope that I will find a way to both have the students enjoy things more and enjoy things more myself. When that doesn’t happen, back to hope I go for the next lesson after that. My favorite unit is either gingerbread houses or Thanksgiving.

[For a look at Glenzilla destroying the gingerbread houses that had gone stale and students didn’t want after their project, click HERE]

What’s the best thing about GF Nation?
Finally an easy one! I jest. This is quite a suitcase to unpack. However, If I must I would say the community. If you have the courage to try things here the teaching community and the community at large will be there to try with you. I have been lucky enough to do a number of things that were going to need help (Glenzilla, Thanksgiving, Outdoor Grilling, Food waste audits, et. al.) and each time the community stepped up and supported me in ways I would not have predicted.

three high school teaching staff members share a smile in the hallway in front of red lockers