Dr. Joe

Special Education Teacher Juarez High School
Joe Passi grew up in Bridgeport and graduated from high school with a 1.8 GPA (back when that was still possible). He hated school. Joe’s teachers considered him to be a “problem.”

Largely self-taught, both in academics and music, Joe initially considered becoming a priest and did gig-work as a guitarist. He later enrolled in community college, the first in his family to do so. After experiencing his first taste of academic success, Joe transferred to UIC to study philosophy; this awakened in him the awareness of educational inequity for diverse learners.

Joe has worked as a Special Education teacher at Juarez H.S. since 2007. He launched the Juarez Guitar Club when he began his teaching career, and through his lessons, multiple students have become talented musicians throughout the years.

As a teacher, Joe consistently and significantly enriches the lives of his students. He shares his optimism, his love of life, his insight, his empathy, his tenacity, and his remarkable vocabulary each day in the classroom. He acknowledges and validates the anger of students who are filled with academic frustration. He draws out the students who hide within anxiety, fear, and self-doubt. He sets healthy boundaries for the rule-testers. Joe teaches his students how to understand the nature of their disability, and then, how to be their own best advocates.

In 2019, Joe successfully defended his dissertation and earned his PhD. Congratulations Dr. Passi! Thank you for teaching us, your co-workers and students, that not all those who wander are lost.

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