Josh Forgione: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

Josh Forgione, left, with his wife, Melissa.

Published: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 at 4:58 p.m.

Josh Forgione graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and Insurance, and began working for corporate America immediately following graduation. While working, Josh found himself unhappy, unfulfilled, and feeling as though he should be doing something more to help others. He made the unpopular decision to leave his secure, well-paying job, and began graduate school to earn his Masters in Secondary Education. After graduation, he was offered and accepted a job at Gainesville High School, working in their social studies department, and has been there since.


About Josh Forgione
Category: Education
Occupation: Teacher and coach
Years in Gainesville: 11
Spouse: Melissa

In his time at GHS, he has taught American History, Government, and Economics, from regular classes all way up to Cambridge level courses. He has been the club sponsor for Key Club, as well as Young Republicans. He has also devoted a great deal of time to coaching football, as an assistant coach on Freshman, to head coach for Freshman, and now assistant coach for JV. During all this time, he has been an assistant to varsity.

The fact Josh does these things is not what makes him an outstanding educator and community member; it is how he does them and his dedication to them. While most teachers are trying to teach just Advanced Placement students or Cambridge students each year, and Josh has been given that opportunity, he chooses to keep his regular students, even demanding them at times. Josh feels we should give back to all students, and put forth the same amount of effort in educating them regardless of what others have determined to be their ability level. Therefore, Josh has to plan classes and curriculum for levels ranging from students who are not on grade level, all the way up to students who are taking the class in order to earn not only college credit, but credit from an internationally recognized program. That would be challenging for any individual to do, but Josh does it, and does it well.

When it comes to coaching football, Josh has an extreme sense of loyalty and commitment to both the players and coaches. He does not just see coaching as an opportunity to win games; he sees it as an opportunity to teach skills that span across all areas of life, as well as mentor those around him. There are a number of former players who keep in contact with Josh, as well as former coaches. On and off the field, Josh makes himself available to the players and coaches, and oftentimes is helping the coaches with planning practice and game strategy. Josh has had middle school coaches come to him, asking if they can just volunteer with him, and after doing so, have had the opportunity to move onto high school head coaching positions.

All of these things Josh does is not what makes him special; it is how he does them all and the impact he has made on those around him. Students reach out to him, even after graduation, for him to mentor them. He has received letters from students saying he saved their lives, not because he did anything \"exceptional\", but because he made an observation about the student, expressed it to them, and it stuck with them forever. He has had mothers tell him he is the closest thing to a father their child has. He has shown these students HE CARES about them as people, not just the grade on their report card or FCAT score. When he receives this feedback, he doesn\'t see it as though he has gone out of his way to do so, he sees it as he has done his job, and been himself.

You will be hard pressed to find even a handful of former students or staff he has worked with that do not love Josh.

When it comes to working with students and his career as an educator, teaching always comes first. Although he has the talent to move upward with coaching, he chooses not to. He says he is an oddity, that he is \"a teacher who coaches, not a coach who teaches.\" There are very few high school football coaches you will catch saying that! To him, the letters or emails from students and parents saying he not only taught them, but moved them to become better people, is worth more than the glory that comes with coaching. This does not mean he does not devote himself to his responsibility as a coach; this means he gives a lot of his time to manage both. In the Fall, Josh will leave for work around 7am, and not return home until 7pm, and as late as 2am on some nights. He then spends his weekends reviewing football plays, techniques, and coaching tips, as well as planning the lessons for his students and effective teaching activities for the week.

Josh\'s teaching talent has not gone unnoticed; he was asked to write the curriculum for economics for the county, which he has been working on throughout his summer break, along with coaching. While many other teachers are going on trips or relaxing, Josh has spent the entire summer coaching, prepping for the upcoming school year, and creating county wide curriculum.

Not only does Josh do these things, but one of his goals, should he have enough funding, is to open a camp to underpriveleged and/or inner city children, where he teaches them about fishing and other outdoor activities, with the underlying goal to help these children grow as individuals and learn skills and values such as honesty, integrity, teamwork, responsibility, caring, and kindness, all while building relationships and having fun.

It is important to note that while Josh excels in teaching and educating, he has not had outside obstacles. This past January, at the start of the spring semester, Josh\'s father passed away after being in the hospital since Christmas Day. He had lost his father, his mentor, his best friend, his \"moral compass.\" While he was truly sad, and is still grieving, Josh has not let that take away from his teaching. Rather than use it as an excuse to not put in quality work, Josh has instead used it as motivation to continue to push forward, impacting as many people as possible along the way.

It is an absolute privilege to know and be married to Josh, and I don\'t just say that because he is my husband; that is WHY he is my husband. Josh is one of the most caring, loyal, dedicated, giving, and loving people on the planet, and I challenge you to find anyone who knows him that disagrees. All of his family, friends, coworkers, fellow coaches, and students love him. I speak for all of them when I say Josh is deserving of the Spirit of Gainesville award for education as he has taught all of us something, while also inspiring us to be better people and do the same. And while he will tell you, and truly believe, he does not deserve it, it genuinely does.

I could not be prouder and more priveleged to know Josh.

Nominated by Melissa Forgione

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