John Tusch was born in Trumbull, raised a daughter in Sandy Hook, and years later moved north to join Hartford Public Schools as a teacher. A graduate of Boston University where he was a Trustee Scholar, he also earned graduate degrees from WCSU and SCSU. He has taught English, Computer Science, Music, Theater, and the Gifted, in urban and suburban schools. He was co-owner and Chief Instructor of a martial arts studio in Fairfield, Connecticut, adding entrepreneurial experience to an already strong teaching career. He currently teaches AP English, AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP), and ECS at Global Communications Academy (GCA). He lives with his daughter in East Hartford and helps coach her softball team.
Mr. Tusch began college as a Music major. His parents, worried they were raising a starving artist, encouraged him to explore a backup career. A homework assignment for a General Education course sent him to observe a first-grade class in Milton, MA. He walked in the door, the teacher handed him a book, said, “Here are your kids, just make sure they’re doing the reading and you’re not doing all the reading,” and walked away. There he sat, a handful of six- and seven-year-olds, a picture book, and no idea what to do next. Together, they stumbled their way through a couple of stories. The awkwardness slowly turned into fun. When it was time to go, one little girl looked up and asked, “Mister, are you coming back?” With that, he was hooked. He went back to school and changed his major that afternoon.
Mr. Tusch believes that literacy, digital or otherwise, extends far beyond tapping a smartphone and sending a text. Tomorrow’s leaders need to listen closely, judge critically, and think creatively. His teaching is student-centered and outcome-based. Learning is a voluntary act, so the question is just as important as the answer. The teacher’s role is to stand beside or behind each student, expecting, cajoling, believing, and inspiring.
The results show that it works. Global Communications Academy’s 2019 sophomores posted the top scores on the Reading PSAT at Hartford Public Schools. Two of GCA’s AP Computer Science Principles students earned the first passing scores in GCA’s history on the 2019 AP CSP exam. Mr. Tusch is committed to the idea that there is nothing our students can’t achieve if given the opportunity, the access, and a teacher who believes they can.
An advocate for students, Tusch remains active in the Hartford community. Last year he coordinated Kids Coding for a Cause at GCA. Seventh-grade students, mentored by high-schoolers, collaborated with leaders of local nonprofits in a day-long seminar to create mobile apps to solve problems unique to their charity’s mission, such as connecting young people with theater programs, helping at-risk students find mentors, and providing directions to real-time resources for victims of domestic violence.
Mr. Tusch is also an advocate for education. He has been a facilitator and participant in community events such as Community Conversations at Kamora’s Cultural Corner and has testified to the Hartford Board of Education advocating for more mindful testing practices. He has lobbied legislators at the State Capitol on issues such as improved Latino and African American Studies opportunities, affordable housing for teachers, and minority teacher recruitment.
Instructional leadership has always been at the core of Mr. Tusch’s professional practice. He is currently a Distance Learning Facilitator as well as a full-time teacher covering multiple schools. He trained GCA’s faculty in PowerTeacher Pro and Google Classroom months before the district went to distance learning. He served on the district English Curriculum writing team, where he helped author updates to the 10th-grade curriculum. He has built master schedules for GCA and Burr School. This past summer, Mr.Tusch served as Hartford’s delegate to the national AP CSP Teachers Summit on the Facebook Campus in Palo Alto, CA, and brought back ideas and innovative strategies to our students in AP CSP.
He continues to support small businesses as the owner of Fanfare Enterprises, a digital marketing company that builds digital presence and content for entrepreneurs. He also maintains Bulkeley High School’s website. This gives him the opportunity to teach web development to students, some of whom have contributed to the Bulkeley website. Proud to be a self-proclaimed teacher nerd, he considers himself very fortunate to live out his life’s calling every day.