A Q&A with Darien High School’s Inspirational Teacher of The Year: Mr. Vital

The teacher of the year at DHS has some interesting facts about him you wouldn’t have known about before.

Valentina Galvan, Writer

Mr. Vital is a student-favorite 300 and AP Chemistry teacher. (Valentina Galvan)

Everybody knows and loves Mr. Vital, the 300 and AP chemistry teacher at the very end of the hall in the science wing. But what is his life really like outside of the lab? I decided to sit down and have a conversation with him about his life at home and at school to learn more about him.

Me: “Why did you decide to pursue chemistry?”

Mr. Vital: “I guess I didn’t really pursue chemistry, my parents were in the field of medicine and I sometimes, because of babysitting issues, had to go into work with them when I was young. So, science and school came easy to me. When I went to college, I decided to do a pre-med major which is a chemistry major. In college, I got involved in doing medical research, so I decided to pursue laboratory research and I ended up working in Sloan-Kettering for a little bit of time.”

“Throughout this time, I played a lot of volleyball. I got an opportunity to coach some youth teams, which I truly enjoyed. Since I enjoyed coaching the youth teams, I thought as a career, I could maybe become a teacher and since I had a science background, of course a science teacher made logical sense. And, I fell in love with teaching and I’ve been a teacher ever since and stopped coaching and playing volleyball many years ago.”

Me: “What do you enjoy doing in your free time?”

Mr. Vital: “Now during my free time, which I don’t have a lot of, I listen to audiobooks. I like to go on vacation, I’ve gotten into trying to find unique restaurants to go to. I play golf in the summertime.” 

Mr. Vital’s running playlist from Apple Music. He enjoys listening to popular up-beat songs that you can find in the various top songs playlists. (Valentina Galvan)

Me: “Do you listen to any music?”

Mr. Vital: “I am 100% a top 40 pop music follower. I don’t listen to a ton of music but if I ever exercise I’ll listen to my running playlist.”

Me. “If you could add or teach another class in DHS, what class would you add or teach?”

Mr. Vital: “African-American Studies is a course that [history teacher] Mrs. Fulton teaches, and I wish I could support her because it’s a very important course for our students to experience.”

Me: “So I asked some students what their favorite thing about you was, and junior Luna Ersek said this: 

“There’s a lot, I think my favorite thing about Mr. Vital is that he’s a good teacher but he’s also a person that you can have fun with.”

Me: “What’s your response to that?”

Mr. Vital: “That makes sense to me. Because I think my best teaching quality is interacting with students and I often tell parents that I’m trying to make students better people first, and if we learn some chemistry along the way that’s like a bonus. And I also want my classroom to always be a safe space, because there are times when students feel they can’t talk to their parents and I want there to be adults they can trust some things with.”

Me: “Sophomore Selina Zhang said this:”

“My favorite thing about Mr Vital is how he’s always in the hallways.”

Me: “What’s your response to that?”

Mr. Vital has always made sure that students take good care of his lab area, so that it looks polished as shown here with his lab equipment by the window. (Valentina Galvan)

Mr. Vital: “I think sometimes in the hallways, if I’m walking during passing time or during a free period and I see one of my students, I try to always say hi. And I’m not sure if all teachers do that, but I had a student who’s graduated now whose parents shared a story with me that because I had the student in study hall, I would say hi to her when I saw her in the hall. Her freshman year was very difficult because she was new to the district, but her seeing me in the hallway pretty regularly because of her classes really made her feel more welcome.”

Mr. Vital admits there are moments where he has difficult times teaching, but he doesn’t regret any of it. He loves teaching to this day because of the people and his experiences with them. Mr. Vital will always be a person that you can trust to welcome you into a safe and comfortable environment because he truly cares about his students, and that’s an incredible aspect to have.