In the kitchen with Paul Gorski

| 07 Jun 2012 | 01:18

By Ginny Raue WEST MILFORD — He feels like he’s just started but soon about 300 of his students will be graduating.West Milford High School principal Paul Gorski, finishing up his first year at the helm, is as excited about graduation as the seniors.

“I’ve just barely gotten to know them and they’re leaving already.They’ve welcomed me from the beginning,” he said.

Gorski, 36, grew up in Caldwell.Married to Jamie since 2003, the couple looks forward to the day when they have their own children.In the meantime Jake,their dog,gets all the attention.

He grew up in a family of history buffs, particularly his grandfather and uncle.As a child he loved to read and always shared their fascination with history.“It almost seems to be in my blood,” he said.

He was a studious kid but also into sports; baseball, basketball and soccer.It was an advanced placement history teacher who sealed the deal on his future career.

“This teacher was different, he made us think and I wanted to be that type of teacher, to get students to think differently, to be inquisitive, to meaningfully learn,” he said.

AtJames Caldwell High School, Gorski was involved in sports, honors clubs, peer leader groupsand the National Honor Society.He graduated in 1994 and headed off to Boston College where he carried the work load of a double major, education and history. He graduatedin 1998. His first job as a history teacher was at Hunterdon Central High School in Flemington.

Gorski came to theWest Milford school systemin 2008 as a social studies supervisor.This year he sits behind the principal’s desk.But not often.

He likes to be involved with all aspects of the school, fromthe classrooms to the fields, to the stage,to the shops.He tries to be engaged, to let the students seethathe actively supports them.He hopes to propel students into different arenas, meet other kids, try something new.

“It’s great that they have a chance to be something that they never were before, a chance to invent themselves,” he said.

It’s been an exciting year for Gorski.The work load is what he expected, andeverydayis a challenge.Everything is runningsmoothly then he is called off for something that may take up a few hours of his time.He sometimes wakes in the middle of the night.“There’s a million things going through my head, but it’s inspiring and I want to get to work and start the day.”

“Young peoplejust have this energy and you can feed off that energy," he said."It keeps you young and provides you with that spirit.I’ll make my mistakes but I want what’s best for these kids.That’s why I’m here.”

He hopes to get the students more involved with the school, to feel the school is their home away from home.He’s working with the student council, giving them a bigger stake in the school, at the same time teaching them that along with that involvement comes responsibility.

His goal is to preparehigh school students for thefuture.He wants them to have the best instruction and learn theskills they’ll need when they are no longer a part of the high schoolcommunity.There are many paths open to kidsand he wants to help them to get where they want to go. Whether a student is heading off to college or into the job market, the competition is stiff.

“You need to be different, to jump off that page somehow,” he said.Getting involved with activities makes the student stand out.

Gorski’s advice to his students is simple;look in the mirror at the end of the day and ifyou can say to yourself you’ve worked hard,did your best, maybe tried to help someone or at the very least didn’t hurt someone, you are doing well. Choose your path and be content with what you’ve chosen.

He also had some words of wisdom for parents.Steer them, help them grow and mature and help them understand that consequences follow their actions.Help them think about the bigger picture, especially at a time in their lives when they are so centered in the here and now.Occasionally they may need a gentle shove.

Gorski had a student at one time who, at the end of each class, would say to him,, “Go home and pet your dog.”He found that to be sage advice, a reminder to take time for himself and what’s important in his life.

He doesn’t have much spare time but he tries to exercise, spend time with his family and friends andread a good book.He enjoys music, the Highlander Band of course,but he also listens to Led Zeppelin and The Doors.Willhis studentsknow who they are?

He sometimes works along with his wife in the kitchen preparing a meal, but his specialty is grilling.He sent along a recipe that is not for the faint of heart – or the heart patient.