High School English Teacher’s Fire Juggling Brings New Excitement to the Classroom

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

A teacher at Freeport High School in Freeport, Florida is using his extra-curricular activity of juggling fire to connect with students. Troy Grisa, an English teacher for ninth and 12th graders said that he fell in love with the art of fire poi after attending a concert and witnessing it in person.

“I thought it was the coolest thing. I took out my phone and ordered a starter set,” said 24-year-old Grisa. He said he practiced the moves in his living room and soon after started performing at Baytowne Marina in Sandestin, Florida as a side job.

When Grisa’s fire poi set was stolen from him, he found the thief and persuaded the man to give it back to him after giving him a performance with it. Grisa used the story in his classroom as a teaching tool. “I wanted to show them the elements of a short story, such as story arc, man versus nature, man versus self and man versus man. (Plus) turning the other cheek,” said Grisa. After completing his story, Grisa turned off the lights and performed his art for his students.

His co-worker, Lisa Stevenson, said that Grisa’s energy in class makes him loved by everyone. She added that his talents allow him to connect with his students.

Grisa said that his pet peeve is when kids use their cellphones to video his performance instead of experiencing it first-hand. He explained that some things are just better when witnessed by your own eyes instead of through a video screen.

Grisa admitted he may have singed a few nose hairs and received a small burn while performing but said he has never seriously injured himself. Though he plans on continuing his art by performing at weddings and other gigs, he says he has no intention of leaving teaching.