Surprise Squad honors Westfield teacher helping students get back on track

The Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad is back, recognizing teachers who go above and beyond.
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2022 at 5:07 PM EDT
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WESTFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad is back, recognizing teachers who go above and beyond. This month, it’s a teacher in Westfield who wears several hats for the district from running a summer school program for students to coaching varsity boys soccer at the high school and let’s just say he was surprised.

“Everything is positive with Andrew,” said Westfield High School Principal Chuck Jendrysik.

Spending hot summer days in the classroom is not typically anyone’s ideal summer vacation, but for the dozens of students gathered outside Westfield High School, there is one person inside that building who not only works hard to make their summer program a success, but also fun.

“He gave me a joyful math I never had before and for that, I’m forever grateful for what he’s done for me. That’s all I want to say. He’s a great man. He’s a G, absolute G,” said incoming Westfield High School senior Kyle Williams.

That ‘G’ is Mr. Andrew Joseph, a Westfield High School math teacher, the Westfield High boy’s varsity soccer coach, and the credit recovery summer program director, so that’s where the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers Surprise Squad headed for day two of the program to surprise Joseph with the help of some of his students.

“We’re here at Bomber Nation to surprise Andrew today…can’t wait,” said Brian Houser, general manager of Balise Hyundai.

“We’re here to surprise another deserving teacher,” said Gary Rome Hyundai President Gary Rome.

“He has no idea we’re here,” said Carla Cosenzi, president of Country Hyundai.

That was for sure, based on Joseph’s stunned reaction

“What the… I’m extremely surprised and grateful for this,” Joseph said.

[Reporter: Chris got you?]

“He got me. I’ve been got,” Joseph added.

It was Christopher Rogers, student intervention and safety administrator for Westfield Public Schools, who “got” Joseph and nominated him as an outstanding educator.

“Andrew is my boots-on-the-ground here. He is my director that runs this program every summer and it has been one of our most successful ones in the district,” Rogers explained.

The credit recovery summer program serves students in grades 7 thru 12 who are working to make up courses from the school year. Joseph has been the program’s director over the past four years, reaching a 90 percent passing rate in 2021 with the hopes of hitting 100 this year, but of course, there have been challenges to overcome along the way.

“This program never stopped even during the pandemic. We had to go virtual for one year,” Rogers noted.

“It’s been fun. It’s been fun to figure out the logistics. It’s been fun to see kids get to where they need to go,” Joseph added.

With the help of the Hyundai dealers, Joseph not only received a $400 check for his dedication to the school community, but also the chance to bring some fun to the program too.

“We would like to present you with this check for $500 to Westfield High School to use for whatever resources to help your program,” Cosenzi said.

“Pizza party, yeah!” Joseph said.

Always thinking of others first, it’s a testament to his character noted by both students and staff.

“You can really tell he cares about what he does and I appreciate that,” said incoming Westfield Tech senior Donald lariviere

“I’ve been failing all my math classes since about eighth grade and when I was in Mr. Joseph’s class, I got a 98 because he just has a way of really building rapport and making you want to do the work and I’ve never had that from any other teacher,” Williams added.

“Andrew not only is obviously an exceptional teacher, but an exceptional coach and a great person,” jendrysik noted.

The Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers are blown away by the showing of support.

“I think that the reaction from all the kids speaks for itself,” Cosenzi said.

“What a great guy and what a great program. He makes a difference,” Rome noted.

“To have Andrew take his summer to support these kids shows his true dedication as far as what he does for these students at Westfield,” Houser explained.

However, for Joseph, the real driving factor behind his passion and dedication to the community…

“It probably comes from my parents, right? They are people that…that set a great example…that it’s worth it for people to have someone in charge that works with them and cares for them. I think I just try to do the best I can,” Joseph said.