One aspect of the coronavirus pandemic that was new to most of us was a temporary shortage of toilet paper, as shoppers stocked up in preparation for the stay home order to come.
For former Navy Commander, now business teacher, Nick Mato, this was nothing new. He had to deal with this once while in the Navy.
While Mato was at sea off the coast of Somalia, the ship of about 300 sailors almost ran out of toilet paper. “That could’ve been a significant sanitation problem,” Mato said.
The supply ship hadn’t delivered any toilet paper the last three shipments, which was the cause of this problem. “They promised us the fourth time would be the charm.” This wouldn’t even last them two weeks, so they sent out a ship asking for donations. They came up with “the golden toilet roll” award, which would be awarded to the sailor that had the most innovative idea for conserving toilet paper.
While conserving toilet paper might have been one of the funniest things he learned in the Navy, there were a lot more practical skills he picked up. He learned time management and people skills which help him relate and care about his students of present and past. He goes out of his way to talk to students.
“The Navy taught me to adapt because we were always adapting to new things. I also learned time management, how to work with people, and how to have fun,” Mato said.
Mato was a contracting and supply officer during his time in the Navy. He served for 22 years, going in at the age of 27.
“I chose the Navy because I got to ride on a ship, they have cool uniforms, and they don’t get shot at,” Mato said.
Being in the Navy, Mato was able to visit many countries including Japan, Thailand, Kenya, South Korea, and more. This was something he really enjoyed doing and he got to learn about many new cultures. When volunteering, Mato would help paint and clean sailor’s homes, which was another thing he enjoyed a lot.
“Hong Kong was my favorite because there was a lot to do and we did a lot of boating. We would float to different islands and do some volunteer work,” Mato said.
Going from country to country on the open ocean to a small stuffy classroom, Mato had a lot of adjusting to do. But Mato took the skills he learned during his time in the Navy to be a successful teacher.
“My favorite part about being a teacher is the kids. They keep me young, although some drive me crazy,” Mato said.
Mato would have a hard time coming back to work if he didn’t have such great students. He makes an effort to remember all of his students’ names, even his students from the past.
When he doesn’t remember the names of his previous students, he looks back at his old seating charts. He assumes that he will continue to see them in the halls, so he should learn their name.
“He starts a conversation with me by saying ‘Hi Olivia, how are you doing?’ He makes everyone’s day feel better,” Mato’s past student, sophomore Olivia Willard said.
Mato greets as many students as he can in the hallways, whether they are current students, or past students. Those Navy skills help him build relationships with SHS students.