Written By: Matthew Palma, Brian Alvarado
Lover of poetry and comics, Star Wars fanatic, and professional wrestling enthusiast, Mr. Laconi is one of the many individuals to thank at Port Chester High School for its great academic programs.
Some know him as the head of the school’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). Others may know him as a passionate English teacher, focused on giving all his students a remarkable education, or perhaps a convivial co-worker. For anyone that does know him, he’s seen as a friend and mentor, always willing to help anyone he meets.
Mr. Laconi was born and raised in Queens, NY, by his grandparents who immigrated from Cuba. He was brought up alongside his sister. He’s a part of the first generation of his family that started their lives in the United States. Today, Laconi feels he is a part of the Port Chester High School Ramily; many at the school do very well appreciate the expertise he provides.
Being the first generation of his family to have more opportunities in the U.S. and live outside of Cuba, Laconi had difficulties with support on his educational journey. Still, his grandparents would always encourage him to continue his education. He would become the first in his family to attend and graduate college, earning his B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in English at CUNY Queens. Later, he would return to CUNY Queens to earn his Master’s Degree in Education.
Laconi’s road of education hasn’t slowed down though. Recently, he attended an administration program at the College of Saint Rose, which he finished this past year.
Although he has been a teacher for fifteen years and enjoys it very much, teaching wasn’t his first option. Originally, he wanted to be a sports journalist, but he wasn’t enthusiastic about some of the things the process requires.
Creative writing would be the next calling Laconi would explore, writing short stories and similar things. Ultimately, he would obtain his English degree which led him to decide to become a teacher and later earn his master’s. One way or another, Laconi wanted to pursue a career, “involving words, writing, and reading.”
Laconi started his career in education at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, that school closed, leading him to need to find another teaching opportunity. He would find himself at a small public school known as Khalil Gibran International Academy, also in Brooklyn. During his time there he would finish his teaching certification. He started by teaching eighth and ninth grade, and over the years he worked his way up to teaching seniors. At this school he would be introduced to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), and would be granted a leadership position in it. However, the IBDP was much smaller there than it is at Port Chester High School, having only about seven to nine candidates annually.
Laconi was ecstatic when asked to take up the IB coordinator role at PCHS. When he was asked to be a part of the team, he said that he, “ Enthusiastically took the opportunity.” He says, “To be honest with you, it was a little daunting. It’s a much bigger school, there are many more diploma candidates here, there are many more kids taking certificate courses, so it’s a lot more to manage. But looking at the rise in students participating in the diploma program and just seeing the large group we have this year is definitely something that motivates me and really, I would say that I feel like I’m helping to contribute.”
When asked about who influenced him the most, he said that his grandparents’ support had been, “crucial in allowing for the opportunity to choose this pathway.” They were the ones who made sure he and his sister received a good education and encouraged them to continue and seek higher education.
If you know anything about Mr. Laconi, you know that he is quite a fashionable individual. But did you know the history and sentiment behind the way he dresses? While teaching in Brooklyn, he wanted to wear jeans, but did not enjoy the way a dress shirt tucked into jeans. He started wearing a vest to “smooth the transition.”
Laconi also didn’t like the idea of using a cell phone while teaching, so he would start using a pocket watch. While in Port Chester, he thought to himself, “Why wouldn’t I be able to wear dress shorts?” Thus, from then on he started wearing the dress shorts many know him for today. He says, “Some may not love it, but I believe that if you wear the right pair of shorts, you can look really well dressed.” This apparel alongside his man-bun make Laconi a very memorable teacher.
Being a “comic nerd” and pop culture enthusiast, Laconi also likes to compare his attire to superheroes and fictional characters, saying, “If you want, you can make it akin to like a superhero, what you wear sometimes can make you feel different.” He went on to say he feels like Fred Rogers (a.k.a. Mr. Rogers), saying, “It makes me feel like Mr. Rogers, you know? Like how in the morning when he ‘suits up’ for a great day and takes it off his ‘suit’ when he gets home.” Laconi may seem like a Mr. Rogers figure to some, always wanting to help and spread positivity and respect. If you feel like something isn’t possible, Laconi is one who will be there for you and convince you otherwise, truly being an optimistic person.
With him being an avid reader, one may ask: what character does Mr. Laconi feel like he relates to most? Laconi says, “My wife may disagree with me, but I’ll have to say, Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. I hadn’t read it when it was assigned, but then my friend suggested I read it over the summer, and I ended up loving it. I feel like I connected to his stream of conscious and descriptive type of writing throughout the novel. So, literary-wise, it would have to be Holden Caulfield.”
In his free time, Mr. Laconi loves reading his comics, reading almost everything that comes out from Marvel every week, especially X-Men comics. He enjoys watching shows such as Game of Thrones and simply, overall enjoys the fantasy genre, loving anything having to do with, “horses, swords, and dragons.”
When there’s time spare, he spends it on his PlayStation 5, playing games such as FIFA23, Uncharted: A Thief’s End, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Red Dead Redemption 2.
Laconi loves professional wrestling, following corporations such as WWE, Ring of Honor and All Elite Wrestling, the latter two he also occasionally works for. Laconi feels that his hobbies and interests help him as a teacher, believing that, “they help align with some students and allow us to share our thoughts better.”
Considering Laconi has worked at different schools in a variety of diverse settings, what makes Port Chester High School so special to him? Having his family originate from Cuba, Spanish was his first language. His parents and grandparents hadn’t been able to finish their education in Cuba, because they needed to work to support their family. In Port Chester, Laconi feels like he is surrounded by the people he grew up around, taking into account that he was raised in a small, largely hispanic community.
Like many of the students at Port Chester HS, his parents needed assistance with translating English, in addition to having to help his family out at home and obtaining a stable future for them.
“I really enjoy teaching the population that I do. I teach seniors and juniors. I like being able to help them get to that next level before they leave for college, while also sharing experiences with them. I feel that I share similar life experiences with them, and that is important to me, with my hispanic heritage being a big part of who I am,” shares Laconi.
If there is one thing Mr. Laconi could say about his experience at PCHS, it would be that, “I legitimately love working at Port Chester. I know that it’s the kind of thing to say, especially when being interviewed for the school newspaper for everyone to read. But, I can often, if not always be seen walking out of the building with a huge smile on my face. It’s not because I’m leaving, it’s because I truly do love where I work and what I do here. I love working with the student population. I love the co-workers I have here, and everything they bring to the table, how they support everyone. I really do feel like this is a ‘Ramily’ and I am really happy to be a part of it. It means the world to me.”
One thought on “Get To Know Mr. Laconi”
Love your teacher costume, Mr. Laconi!!