Robert Restivo started working at West Orange High School in 1982 as a math teacher. He truly focuses on listening to others and hearing what they are actually saying. This includes his students. Every day when he walks onto campus, he is dressed professionally and always wearing a tie. He works long hours, tutoring students before and after school. He wants each student to be successful; and he is an excellent role model for new teachers. Students who have graduated return to the school for a quick visit and always ask if their favorite teacher, Mr. Restivo, is still teaching. He has been a staple at West Orange High School.
Restivo’s pass rate for his AP Calculus classes is higher than 90%. Former fellow teacher Dr. G.V. Hair said, “Mr. Restivo would be in the Top 5 teachers across the country.”
During his career he has taught pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, Algebra 2, pre-calculus and calculus. He briefly coached football and basketball, and he volunteered to keep the scorebook for basketball and participate on the chain gang for West Orange football. He is the math department curriculum leader and sponsors Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society. He also was chosen the National Honor Society teacher of the Year, WOHS teacher of the year, and have been inducted in the WOHS hall of fame.
What brought you to your school?
In 1982, after graduating from Auburn University, I was hired to teach seventh-grade math at Lakeview Junior High. Five years later, I had the opportunity to move to West Orange High School. I looked forward to teaching higher-level math classes.
What do you love most about your school?
I love working in the same community in which I live. There is definitely a family atmosphere at WOHS.
What is your motivation?
I am motivated every day to work with some of the most amazing and talented students and faculty. I am very lucky to have a job in which I am able to look forward to every day. I can say most days are full of new challenges, especially this year.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Hearing from former students, whether by phone, e-mail, text or in person, is very rewarding. I am happy to hear of their success in college and in their careers. I have been able to mentor younger teachers, some of which have been my former students.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spending time with my family, especially our grandkids, is a top priority. My wife, Cathy, and I have two children, Tony and Rachel; and three grandchildren, Eli, Brinley and Cason. I also enjoy watching sports. I am a huge Auburn fan, and my favorite pro teams are the New York Yankees and the Miami Dolphins.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
I would have to say Mr. Urquhart, my high school trigonometry and calculus teacher. He is the educator who really piqued my interest in mathematics.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
As with most boys, I wanted to be a police (officer) or professional athlete. The last thing on my mind was to be a teacher.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
I devoured reading everything by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Tarzan series and the science fiction series about Mars were my favorites.
What are your hobbies?
One of my hobbies is collecting college pennants. I have them displayed in my room at school. Many of them have been signed by former students and given to me after they have been accepted for college admission. One of my other hobbies is playing fantasy football. I have been in a league with my son for almost 10 years. I also enjoy exercising, especially walking on the West Orange Trail.
If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
Instead of a super power, I would like to have the ability to sing or play a musical instrument. I enjoy music and greatly appreciate people who have this unique ability.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Without a doubt, it is the Beatles, Billy Joel and Jimmy Buffett. The Beatles are a major inspiration to many. I have been listening to Billy Joel since high school and have seen him three times in concert. Listening to Jimmy Buffett puts me in a vacation frame of mind. If you have never heard his song, “Math Suks,” I highly recommend it.