Teacher Appreciation Week: Mr. Cadorette


Teacher appreciation week kicked off in full swing these past few days, and many teachers were recognized for their achievements. However, there are some teachers who, despite not being as well known amongst the student body as others, have gone to great lengths to bring quality education to their classrooms. One such teacher is Tom Cadorette.

English teacher Tom Cadorette began his teaching career at West Potomac about three and a half years ago after being inspired by the words of his own eleventh grade teacher.

“My eleventh grade teacher said ‘you are an underachiever and are not living up to your gifts. You have a gift for the written word, you love reading, you love talking about literature but you’re constantly underachieving in my class.’ So that year was transformative for me– she turned me around and made me actually look at the future and realize that I also spent an awful lot of time throughout most of my high school career always talking with other kids and tutoring and helping them with [their literature]. [and they would say] ‘oh, you’ve got a way of explaining it that makes it a lot easier than when the teacher says it.’”

After working many different jobs that brought no true fulfillment to his life, Cadorette decided to take up teaching.

“My wife and I were talking and she said, ‘if you were going to do something, what would you do? What is it that makes you happy?’ And I said to her I wanted to be a teacher but becoming a teacher would be a huge pay cut,” explained Cadorette. “[My wife] then said, ‘do it for happiness’”.

Despite the financial drawbacks, Cadorette finished college and obtained the necessary degrees for teaching. After thirty long years in the corporate world, Cadorette became a teacher at West Potomac High School.

“I started in the beginning of the third quarter in February 2013. [That first day] was a snowy day and I had no idea what to do or where to go,” Cadorette admitted. “I walked in half an hour late and I remember this big, tall man in the office who greeted me and said, ‘you look very very very flustered–is everything okay?’ [Not knowing who he was] I said to him, ‘yes this is my first day at the job here and I’m thirty minutes late and I’m not sure who I’m supposed to meet or where I was supposed to park or what I’m supposed to be doing’.”

The man turned out to be Cliff Hardison, the former principal of the school. Everything worked out fine for Cadorette and he continued to teach journalism until 2015. Now, he teaches a variety of different English classes including English 10 and AP English Literature and Composition. Although Cadorette’s teaching career has barely begun, his passion for teaching has already been engraved into the hearts of his students.

“He never taught the class in a regular [way]–he sort of taught it in his own style,” said senior Brian Cash who had Cadorette for journalism as well as AP Language and Composition. “Without working us too hard, he prepared us for the AP exam and it helped that he actually understood how College Board worked. It gave us an insightful way of studying without making us stress ourselves,” Cash explained.

In addition to being resourceful, Cadorette’s unique personality leaves some students baffled.

“He’s a funny teacher–but he’s strict at the same time. It’s weird,” admitted sophomore Tanis Gallishaw, a current student of Cadorette’s.

Although Cadorette could have chosen to teach at any location, he specifically chose West Potomac.

“Both my sons went to this school and I knew that I wanted to work in the high school that my daughter would eventually end up at,” said Cadorette. “I’m very happy to be here because West Potomac is just insane with diversity and there is always so much going on here, so many challenges and so many cool things here that I can’t really think of any place else that I would want to teach.”

Cadorette has also found in teaching at West Potomac what he was always looking for: fulfillment.

“[One of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher] is seeing [the students] get accepted into college and knowing that I played a very small part in it some way,” said Cadorette. “How many lives are [my students] going to change and improve because of things that they have done? I’ve had a tiny role in helping each one of those students achieve that.”