Paul Caginalp

Paul Caginalp

Paul is the chair of the science department. He joined Suffield Academy after finishing his master’s degree in physical chemistry at Binghamton University. There, he served as a teaching assistant in both general and organic chemistry. He completed his undergraduate work at Colgate University, majoring in chemistry and earning his teaching certificate. Paul continues to encourage professional development for himself and his fellow teachers. Paul attended the prestigious Klingenstein Summer Institute, is a NEASC accreditation team member, and coordinates Suffield Academy’s first-year teacher mentor program. Paul has been passionate about technical theater since high school and continued to study technical theater at Colgate. Paul now runs the Technical Theater Program at Suffield.

Paul is also an avid sportsman which has made him a valuable addition to the riflery program. He lives on campus with his wife Erica, daughter Clara, and family dog Apollo.


Where were you born
Manhasset, New York. It’s on Long Island, about 30 minutes from New York City.

What do you love about where you are from?
The local pizza place. I still think about driving the 2.5 hours to get a bunch of pizzas and freeze them at home. All through college and for a few years working at Suffield I would stop there first for a slice before heading to my mom’s house. She now lives in Florida so I haven’t visited in a while. It was the kind of place where you knew all the family members running the restaurant and they all knew you. They would ask about the rest of the family when you went in to get a pizza.

If someone was traveling to where you are from for 24 hours, what would you recommend? 
Most of the attractions growing up involved a train ride into New York City. There wasn’t a ton to do in my town. The town is very close to the water, but the beaches weren’t great. If you have access to a sailboat, the sailing was great.

What do you love about where you live now?
I like to say Suffield is thirty minutes from anything you want. Living between two small cities with their own individual strengths and flavors is great. Maybe thirty minutes is a little generous but it’s a great place to be.

What is your favorite thing about day-to-day life at Suffield Academy? 
It has to be the variety. I can teach chemistry in the morning, teach lighting and architecture in the afternoon, watch a soccer game, and go to an art show all in one day. It makes for long days, but great days.

What is the first thing you do every morning when you get to work? 
Coffee. Lots of coffee. I think my bucket of a mug has become well known on the campus at this point. I am not a morning person, but the coffee helps a lot. 

Who is your favorite artist? 
I believe I am legally obligated to say that my wife is my favorite artist. 

Which of your roles at Suffield Academy do you relish the most? 
It’s really hard to choose. I wear so many different hats and every day is different. Some days I really enjoy working on the lighting for the next show and some days I really enjoy the chemistry that I am teaching. Other days I love being a faculty mentor to the younger teachers. It’s too hard to choose just one.

What is something your Suffield Academy family might not know about you?
I enjoy hockey games. I watch the Stanley Cup games and I love getting to the local AHL teams when I have the chance. I don’t necessarily follow any team, but I happily watch a game anytime.

What is your favorite book? 
That’s a tough one. I love so many books. I am currently reading The Stormlight Archives which is a series by Brandon Sanderson. That’s a current favorite and I can’t wait for the next book to come out.

What is the one word that you live by? 

What is something you believe one can never over-invest in? 
You can never over-invest in the things between you and the earth: shoes, tires, and bed. Those things all take a ton of wear, and they need to be good.

What is your favorite hobby? 
Over the summer I do a lot of woodworking. I make a new project every year to increase my skills.

What advice would you give a new teacher at Suffield Academy? 
My advice to new teachers is always the same: don’t reinvent the wheel. There is so much already made and out there for everything, adapt what you can find instead of making it new.

What is the most important life lesson for someone to learn? 
The most important life lesson is to ask for help. It requires a lot of trust and humility, but asking for help is so important. We can’t do everything on our own, and we can’t know everything. We need to utilize all our resources to be our best. That includes asking friends for help.

What is your favorite song of all time? 
Usually I have an Audible book running rather than music.

Who is your role model? Inspiration? 
I base a lot of my teaching philosophy on a teacher I had in high school. Funnily enough, I never actually had his class. He was more like an advisor role for me and my friends though we didn’t have formal advisors in the school. We all hung around the history office because of him, and we would meet up on weekends to play Dungeons and Dragons at one of our houses with him. He taught us so much more than any class could have.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 
I took a class on Japan in college, but I have never been able to visit. I hope to make Japan my next big trip. 

What is your favorite food? 

What has been the most interesting thing you have learned from a student? 
The Research Methods class requires each student to come up with their own project. I’ve learned a lot of really interesting and weird things about kinesthetics, barnacles, coral, fluorescent algae, and how to acquire nearly anything that the class needs.

What is your style like in three words?
Comfortable chemistry nerd! I often wear chemistry shirts around campus because I have to show that I can be myself and love an academic subject. It’s hard to be into academics for a lot of our kids right now, and I feel like I need to show the love of a subject at all times.