He’s there to explain how to do warm-ups properly, to teach students how to play active games and help them understand the rules of the road.
Now, Bob Colombo’s hard work is in the spotlight.
Colombo enters the second half of his 10th year at Seneca High School with the Teacher of the Year distinction next to his name, a title he was humbled and surprised to receive.
“Jeffrey Spector came in (during a class) and announced it to the class, and I’m not normally the type of person that likes getting that type of attention,” Colombo recalled. “The kids were laughing at me because it was awkward.
“It was cool and neat to have the little impromptu ceremony.”
During school hours, Colombo can be spotted teaching physical education or driver’s ed, a path he’s all too familiar with because his parents were educators.
Colombo remembered being in college, on track with history to supplement his education, and switching to physical education after fond recollections of how much physical sport and wellness affected him.
“I grew up in Tabernacle and went through the schools and went to Shawnee High School and I had some amazing teachers along the way,” he added. “Both of my parents are retired teachers and I saw the impact they had on kids and the lifestyle they lived and how rewarding it was for them.”
The educator said when he was young, he often stopped by Pennsauken High School while his dad was coaching football, and Colombo grew to admire how his parents connected wth students and fellow coaches and promoted team camaraderie.
Colombo lends his skills to wrestling as an assistant coach and has previously coached volleyball, tennis and track and field. As a coach, he sees that specialty in the same fashion as teaching, reminding athletes he cares about them and wants them to succeed in life.
“One (motto) that stands out to me is ‘Nothing replaces hard work,’” he noted. “With coaching, sometimes you have people who try to take shortcuts and do things ‘the easy way,’ but in the long run, there’s nothing that can replace the work that’s needed to be successful.”
Most teachers have gifts they admire year after year, and Colombo loves reading handwritten or homemade cards and notes addressed to him by former students, informing him of the impact he’s had on their lives.
One of the ways Colombo said he reaches students is through the required driver’s education course sophomores take. Students are excited and eager for the freedom of a license and Colombo instills the laws of the road, how to behave behind the wheel and the impact of choices they make when they drive.
Outside of driver’s education and sports, Colombo interacts with students on the volunteer side of high school as the advisor to Seneca’s Give Kids the World Club, assisting with fundraisers, events and the annual trip to Florida to spend time with families.
“We bring 20 kids down there every year and get them to interact with the kids in the village and families,” Colombo explained. “You get to see them in a totally different light than compared to in the classroom.”
Many students and fellow staff members may not know Colombo plays pickleball recreationally outside of school, but they’ll learn from either taking one of his classes, holding conversations with him or being one of his players. They’ll find he works hard to make students feel warm and welcome in his classroom.
Colombo hopes to continue showing people he cares deeply about physical education and that there’s an intense amount of educational benefit from the classes.
A member of the Seneca family, Colombo said it’s an added benefit to be supported so much by his coworkers, a constant, positive impact on his job.