Farewell – The Closing of a Chapter

Mr. Storey’s students discuss the lasting impact he has had on their lives

Mr. Storey poses next to his wall of memories in his classroom in F108.

Mr. Storey specializes in English, essay writing, and film studies, but the tremendous impact he has had on his students during his 20 years of teaching at Piscataway High School leaves behind a legacy that will extend far beyond the walls of F108.

Despite having to struggle through my junior year (2020-2021) through Zoom classes, Mr. Storey created a welcoming learning environment that truly made AP Lang one of the best classes I have ever taken. Many of his students I have spoken too had similar experiences as well.

“Mr. Storey created an extremely welcoming, comfortable, and engaging environment. Through all of the socratic seminars and lectures, it was hard not to devote your full, undivided attention to him. The fact that he was able to captivate his students this way during virtual school just shows how amazing of a teacher he is,” claims senior Ethan Vito, who had Mr. Storey as his 11th grade AP Lang teacher.

PHS alumni, Valerie Samson, similarly states the AP Lang class she took in 12th grade had a “positive, open-to discussion, and communicative environment” and she “loved how he opened his office hours up to just talk about anything. It was refreshing to get on Zoom to talk to a teacher about something other than school.”

One of my favorite memories was talking to Mr. Storey during office hours about my hobbies, my extracurriculars, and the classes I was taking. It was clear to me that he genuinely enjoys every conversation he has with his students as he was very supportive and encouraging.

Upon recalling some of her favorite memories with Mr. Storey, who was her freshman homeroom teacher and sophomore English teacher, PHS alumni Karis Piccolo reminisced that “He always told me to stop doubing myself and trust my intelligence, he always had faith in me. He also said if he had a class with everyone like me who asked questions he would be so happy. Anything we talked about, whether it was school or life, was always a great conversation.”

Shannen Justinianni, who had Mr. Storey for AP during 11th grade expresses “He told me to pursue what I wanted and that there is no limit when I expressed my concerns with my future education. He also told me that my voice is amazing and that I could really make a career out of it if I wanted. [This happened as] we connected over music after school and I played him one of my covers so this moment really stuck with me.”

Nicholas Morgan, who had him for AP Lang, Film Studies, and Student Option senior year shared some of his experiences, “Some of my favorite topics and discussions I’ve had with Mr. Storey are about baseball and the New York Yankees. When we were virtual my junior year, after getting help in office hours Mr. Storey and I would end up talking about our fantasy baseball teams and how the Yankees were doing. We would also talk about the history of the game and more on our favorite team [the Yankees]. This year in Student Option, Mr. Storey and I got to talk about all things Major League Baseball. Before winter break, I sat down with him and another teacher, Mr. Cere, and we recorded a podcast. We all discussed the current state of the New York Yankees and reflected on the 2021 season. It was a great discussion and a lot of fun. That’s definitely one of my favorite memories and conversations with Mr. Storey.”

Ethan Vito went on to explain the wisdom Mr. Storey instilled in him, noting that “One thing Mr. Storey taught me that I’ll never forget is how to hold myself accountable for the decisions I make. I knew that taking AP Lang involved heavy commitment. Whether it was the numerous essays we wrote, the lengthy annotations/projects he assigned us, or the relentless critical thinking we had to do, it sure was a rigorous course. But I remember him saying to the class that we signed up for this, and it was our job to finish it. That line has stuck with me even until today because it pushes me to be a better student, and a better person as well. Whatever it is I devote myself to, I ensure to put in 100% effort and prevent my ambition from faltering.”

Having Mr. Storey as a teacher during one of the most important years of high school has provided me with the opportunity to plan out my future. His story times in class convinced me that I wanted to pursue marketing in college, his teaching style pushed me to become a better and stronger writer, and the mental health unit we covered in class even led me to forming my own mental health club at the high school.

Valerie commented on her high school days, emphasizing that “I loved going through all the details of Macbeth and unpacking its connection to future works; I just loved the Macbeth unit in general. [Mr. Storey] was a source of motivation for me during college application season, and his class was always something to look forward to during the pandemic!”

Ethan shared the bond they created over their love for music, reciting that “During class (although on Zoom), Mr. Storey and I would talk about Queen, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and bunch of other 70s-90s bands that we loved. We were able to bond through our love for music and use that to fuel discussions. Mr. Storey was one of the few teachers I bonded with through music. I talked about my love for Queen and Freddie Mercury (and even incorporated it into some essays), and he would naturally reciprocate that same admiration for music. His class always felt like a comfortable atmosphere where I could simultaneously be my outgoing self and hone my academic mentality.”

Nicholas opened up about how Mr. Storey affected his high school experience, reiterating that “He is a teacher that genuinely cares about his students outside of the classroom and gets to know them as individuals. Looking back at my senior year, now and later on I’m always going to remember the conversations I had with him during Student Option. Rattling off trivia questions, discussions on Major League Baseball, the status of fantasy baseball teams, etcetera. Student Option was always a class I really enjoyed and looked forward to, and the conversations are definitely going to stick with me. Especially the podcast we made.”

The memories all of us share will stay with us as we continue on our own journeys throughout life. As Mr. Storey is well-known for providing his students with powerful insight, we wanted to leave him with a few words to reinforce how much he meant to our school and community.

Thank you for making the zoom year experience so much better. Good luck!” – Shannen Justinianni, Class of 2022

I want him to know that he truly was my favorite teacher. He always pushed me and made me feel more confident, and I hope the best for him and his family.” – Karis Piccolo, Class of 2021

He helped me master college-level writing, and helped me think about writing in a new way through his guidance. I couldn’t be where I am today without him!” – Valarie Samson, Class of 2021

I want to thank Mr. Storey for everything he’s done for me and helping make my junior and senior year experience better. We’ll miss you at PHS, but good luck with your new supervisor role in Manville!!” – Nicholas Morgan, Class of 2022

Mr. Storey, on behalf of myself and all your students, we solemnly and graciously thank you for everything. Through every little thing you did – from typing out the daily agendas, prioritizing our mental health during unprecedented times, and cultivating us into the mature, educated people we are today, you became much more than a teacher. You are a mentor, a guide, a great musician, and any other term that encapsulates your positive impacts. It goes without saying that we will truly miss you and the corny jokes you would have in store(y) (pun intended), but we know that the bond and memories we share will never fade. Piscataway High School is honored to have had someone like you cultivate the minds of the future generation. We promise to make you proud!” – Ethan Vito, Class of 2022

As one of Mr. Storey’s favorite series is Star Wars, it is only reasonable to end this story with a quote from Master Yoda, “always pass on what you have learned” (Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi), and on behalf of Mr. Storey’s students, I know we all will.