Justin Mirante is an engineer.
He is a construction worker and car mechanic, working in the summers with his brother on various projects throughout the state. He is a former tool design specialist and programmer with Pratt and Whitney.
The 30-year-old director of Technology and Engineering Program now has another title to add to his resume: the 2012 .
“It’s a real honor, but it’s not about recognition,” said Mirante. “My main focus, my push for students is to help them find a passion they can pursue. I give all my students a mission o do what they enjoy and work
with them to figure out how to get there from here.”
A lifelong Berlin resident and 1999 graduate of Berlin High School, Mirante became interested in the field of engineering at a very young age.
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Guided by his parents, Dennis and Ellen Mirante, he was challenged to look at the world around him. He still recalls how they would sit him down at the dinner table or spend time with him on vacations, teaching him new things and encouraging him to think differently.
It was that influence paired with a passion for building things that he gained while working on classic cars with his father and assisting his brother Dennis Mirante Jr. with his construction business at the age of 10 – a job he still does in the summertime - that led him to find a career in teaching.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It was in high school, while I was sitting a Tech Ed class, that they asked us what we wanted to be,” Mirante said. “I didn’t want to sit an office. I didn’t want to do the same thing every day. Being a technology education teacher, you get the chance to constantly make things, to do something new and to shape new minds.”
Mirante, a 2003 graduate of Central Connecticut State University, has caught the attention of his students as well.
Jeff Kolb and Bryan Davis, both juniors at Southington High School, described him as a dedicated teacher who always keeps his door open for students and is willing to work with them. Kolb said he’s never seen Mirante turn away a student, no matter how busy he may be.
“Although we may not always like it, although his class may be tough at times, he’s the type of teacher who won’t give up and pushes his students to learn,” Kolb said. “He’s very deserving of this award.”
Mirante doesn’t just volunteer time as a teacher after school either. He remains active as the Technology and Engineering Club and is a member of the Science and Engineering Fair committee. He has chaperoned numerous events for the high school students including prom, dances and class nights. He is the district coordinator for the Project Lead the Way Partnership Team and is the chair for the School to Career Committee.
Mirante has also developed and coordinated four career expos at Southington High School for both students and their parents.
The Associate Builders and Contactors, an organization of over 600 commercial companies, recognized him for his role in developing a partnership between the high school and organization to help students find employment with the companies following graduation.
Southington High School Principal Martin Semmel said he could not have picked a better selection for Teacher of the Year, an award which is given out annually by a committee comprised of administrators at the .
Semmel described the young department head as hardworking, creative in lessons, holding high expectations for his kids and said he is someone who truly cares about his kids being successful.
“It’s a winning combination,” Semmel said. “Mr. Mirante is very driven. He knows what he wants to do and he achieves it. He has done a fantastic job of leading the engineering program and continues to work with an advisory board to make it the best in the state and one of the top programs in nation.”
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