Faculty Friday Spotlight: Mr. Scott Poponyak
Happy Faculty Friday! With final exams beginning next week, the last highlight of the year is on the Director of Academic Enrichment, Mr. Scott Poponyak! Mr. Poponyak helps students create unique study plans, schedules review sessions with teachers, and works alongside the guidance office to determine the best way to serve our students’ academic needs. His work in the Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) is instrumental in helping the students of Saint Joseph Prep discover and achieve their potential.
In his position as Director of Academic Enrichment, Mr. Poponyak has contributed to the success of many students. When he joined the SJP community in 2013, he introduced new programs for the benefit of all students. These include support labs in math, science, and writing, as well as tutoring arrangements with students from Boston College and Bentley University. Mr. Poponyak also works on a one-on-one level, creating individualized learning plans with the input of advisors, students, and parents, and helping students utilize the resources the AEC has made available to them.
With finals around the corner, he encourages students to understand that success “is not just luck—each student has a recipe for success that involves study and preparation.” Finals week, according to Mr. Poponyak, is centered on not just what to prepare, but how to prepare for exams. Through class review sessions, individualized plans based on students’ strengths and weaknesses, and support from the faculty and staff, students are able to achieve their academic goals.
Mr. Poponyak is also the advisory program coordinator, which he claims is the “secret weapon” of SJP. Having the same academic advisor during all four years is vital to success. “It is more than a home room,” says Mr. Poponyak. “Advisors work with students to set both short- and long-term goals to help reach their potential.” His favorite part about SJP is that the faculty and staff help create a “growth mindset” in the students in everything they do. “We have an incredibly talented and dedicated group of teachers who are willing to give time to support students in any way possible.”
Though he received a B.A. in History from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, Mr. Poponyak always had a passion for helping others. After completing his undergraduate studies, he moved to Prague where he taught at an international school for two years. While in Prague, he worked directly with students with dyslexia and helped them with their reading comprehension skills. This experience “sparked an interest in going back [to school] in special education and learning more about how the brain works and functions.” He went back to California to again attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, this time earning an M.Ed. in Special Education. After graduation, he took a job in San Francisco as a learning specialist for the Mill Valley School District where he created a learning center for the district. Three years later, he took a position in Cincinnati, Ohio as the Head of Middle School at Springer School and Center, the top school for learning disabilities in the midwest. When his wife was promoted and relocated to Boston, Mr. Poponyak was excited to make the move and quickly found a home at SJP.
Outside of SJP, Mr. Poponyak says his “side gig” is traveling. In his office, he has a map showing where he has traveled or lived, which he hopes can instill a sense of adventure in students and help them think outside the box. He has connected this quest for adventure with his love of soccer, attending FIFA World Cup matches in Germany and the United States.
Thank you Mr. Poponyak for helping our students rise to their potential! SJP is lucky to have you here to help our students in so many ways!