Snapshot: Mike Giarratano
Occupation: I am a professor at Sacred Heart University and have been an educator for 55 years. I have taught elementary, secondary, and music, been an assistant principal, principal, professor, and department chair.
Family: I have my wonderful wife, Valerie; a daughter, Lisa; and two sons, Michael and Paul. We have seven beautiful grandchildren: six boys and one girl, ranging from 5 months to college. Our oldest grandson, Rick, is in his second year at the Naval Academy.
How long have you lived in Newtown? Forty-seven years in the same house that we raised our three kids in. Our daughter lives in Newtown also with her family.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love to play the guitar, read, do crosswords, and hike. I volunteer at the Friends of the Booth Library, drive Veterans to the VA Hospital, sing in a Gospel choir, and am the faculty advisor for the SHU men’s basketball team.
What is your favorite book? I am a big fan of audio books, which I get from our library. I usually read a book a week while walking and commuting. I have many favorites. I loved a book I read recently, The Lincoln Highway.
What is your favorite travel destination? We have been fortunate to have traveled a lot. I have been to every state and many countries. I teach a course in Dingle, Ireland (pre-COVID) every winter and have made many friends there. It’s a small friendly town much like Newtown.
What is the best part about Newtown? There’s been many changes in our town over the past 47 years, but what hasn’t changed are the wonderful, kind, generous, resilient people who live here. True neighbors and friends.
What organizations are you part of in Newtown? Over the years, I have been a scout leader, a coach for various local sports teams, the MC for the Labor Day Parade, an usher at St Rose, and volunteer with the Friends of the Booth Library and the KofC Fish Fry.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? My Dad. The older I get the more I appreciate what he gave me — a genuine and sincere role model to help me become a good dad.
If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? My brother, Donnie, who passed away a few years ago. He would love to hear how our families are doing and what a good season the Cowboys are having.
Who is your favorite musical artist? As time goes on, it is easy to forget the legacy of The Beatles. I watched the new special a few weeks ago and reacquainted myself with their creativity and genius. One of my happiest moments is playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with my three grandsons.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? Don’t compare yourself to other people. Focus on your own goals. Comparing to other people will only make you feel artificially high or leave you disappointed.
What is something you cannot live without? My family and friends. I’m lucky enough to still be able to meet with many friends I made from elementary school in the 50s. I’ve had coffee on Saturday mornings with my friends Tony and Jack for over 50 years.
What is your proudest accomplishment? Besides my family, I am proud of being a Vietnam Veteran and being a positive influence on hundreds of students over the years.