Mr. Palmieri Honored As Standout Catholic Educator

by Sopuru “Godson” Ofonagoro, #XBCorps

An interview with Xaverian teacher, coach, and alumnus, Mr. David Palmieri ’93.

Mr. David Palmieri ’93, P ’23 has been an iconic and beloved figure at Xaverian Brothers High School since 1999. That’s when he returned to campus as a teacher, not long after graduating as a Hawk himself. Always eager to learn, Mr. Palmieri obtained his B.A in Religious Studies from Colby College, M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, M.Ed. from Boston College, and is currently pursuing his D.Min. from The Catholic University of America. Perhaps his love of learning is part of the reason that he’s such an excellent teacher and coach. Mr. Palmieri was recently honored by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) for his dedication both in and out of the classroom with a prestigious Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award. These awards highlight the outstanding work of select Catholic school educators, and it was given out to only 13 teachers across the country this year. In this interview, Mr. Palmieri talks about this incredible achievement, his motivation as a teacher, and his future in Catholic education. Here’s what he had to say.
What drives you to continue being the best version of yourself?

Mr. Palmieri: I truly believe that we should do good work so that it deserves praise, but we shouldn’t expect it. What I mean by that is we should have an inherent sense of pride in what we do, and we should always want to perform our best, do our best, and be at our best. Whether or not the world recognizes or praises you for it is irrelevant. I feel that way about this Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award., too. Being nominated and being a recipient is an honor because of the hard work I’ve invested, but in no way do I ever expect to be recognized—nor is it my motivation to be recognized. I’m just doing what I do; teaching is what I do.

What then, is your motivation for doing what you do? 

Mr. Palmieri: It’s for others. I want to help carry the cross for other people, brighten the day for other people, share wisdom with other people, laugh with other people. I want to accompany people along this journey of life. That’s what motivates me. The content I teach is important, but it’s less important than just forming meaningful relationships.
How will you use being the recipient of this award to influence others?

Mr. Palmieri:  My philosophy on teaching is that it’s all about the students. We exist for our students. So, while I’m not going to wear a button that says, “Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Recipient,” in a more subtle way, it’s a reminder that I can influence others to put their students first, too.
What do you look forward to accomplishing next within Catholic education? 

Mr. Palmieri: I want to find a way to create a dialogue with kids that helps them understand theology isn’t a subject in your head; it’s a subject that exists in your heart and in your hands. Theology should help you find some meaning, purpose, and value in life. But also, it should cause you to ask if you’re willing to take that faith into the world and do something with it. Faith is relevant in the modern world. It’s not something you do for one hour a week when you go to Mass, if you go at all. It’s a reality to be lived, and we need to do a better job in Catholic education of making it relevant to the lives of the kids who sit in front of us. That’s a challenge in contemporary culture because religion doesn't seem to hold the same value as it has in generations past. But kids still believe. I see it. The Holy Spirit is very much at work in their lives. It’s real, it’s present, but it’s unrefined. Our job is to help them make sense of it and challenge them to share it with the world.
Xaverian is a Catholic, college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7-12. As an inclusive community, we embrace diverse experiences and perspectives, welcoming students and families from all faiths and backgrounds. Through exceptional academics, athletics, the arts, faith formation, and service opportunities, we help young men discover their unique gifts and talents so they can share them with a world in need.