Mr. Bellini: Teacher, Friend, Role Model
By: Katie Payne
He’s described by his coworkers as the guy that gets along with everyone. He’s the teacher that takes pride in his students' accomplishments. He’s the smiling face you will remember after your high school years are done. He’s the one and only, Mr. Bellini.
Mr. Anthony Bellini graduated from Wheaton North in 2009. He enjoyed his time at North by involving himself in the football program, along with track his senior year. He has fond memories of the drumline circling the football team pre-game, he says it was the coolest sports experience he ever had as a player. Hearing the sounds of the drums echo off the walls made him feel electric, as it does to so many others.
When it came time to decide where to go to college, Mr. Belllini had dreams of going somewhere far away, like Virginia Tech or Hawaii, and majoring in engineering. However, after a visit to Virginia Tech he realized that going so far away was overwhelming and a huge change. He came to the decision to go to College of DuPage and then decided to transfer to Taylor University. He ended up majoring in physical education and held many jobs in college, like co-director of intramurals, resident assistant, and football team manager. One of Mr. Bellini’s most memorable college experiences was during his senior year, when his opposing team was late so he participated in a 3-point contest before the game. Wearing a child-sized inflatable fat suit that said “personal trainer,” he scored the buzzer-beater that earned the game tying point. Everyone stormed onto the court with joy, and he described it as a pretty cool moment.
Going from student to teacher at your previous high school is something unusual that not many people experience. Mr. Bellini says that there are still teachers he will never get used to calling by their first names and that the transition from former teacher to friend is an odd one. Like many other teachers, he got his start at Wheaton North by volunteering to coach football. At the time, he was filling in for the freshman offensive line coach, and has been coaching here ever since. He then reached out to Coach Wardynski who connected him with Mrs. Ellett. She hired him as a substitute at North for two years, and he was then hired to be the in-school suspension teacher. During that time he also decided to get his special education certification and started teaching English. In his first two years of co-teaching English with Mr. Padera, Mr. Bellini loved the great groups of kids they had together. He says that he learned a lot working with them and that he will always remember them. Then in the 2020-2021 school year, he started co-teaching with Ms. Strahanoski, making incredible memories with his co-teachers and students.
When asked if he had a favorite memory as a teacher, Mr. Bellini said that every day is his favorite memory, especially the small, seemingly forgettable interactions. He finds enjoyment in visiting other classrooms and talking to teachers, a usual highlight of his day.
In his limited moments of free time, you can catch Mr. Bellini in the weightroom using the same squat rack he did 13 years ago. He hopes that when he retires, his name gets displayed in that area of the weightroom. He hopes to participate in a powerlifting meet in the summer to show off his remarkable skills. A goal he has is to reach a 2,000 lb total (Bench, Squat, and Deadlift totals combined) before he turns 35. He is pursuing his masters in special education through Eastern Illinois University and says that lifting and reading are two of his favorite pastimes. Two of his recent favorite reads are “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, and “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab.
Mr. Bellini is described by his friend, fellow coach, teacher, and former coach, Mr. Daniel McQuaid, as an incredibly kind person with a sweet spot. He is also described by fellow co-teacher Ms. Alex Strahanoski as an awesome co-worker and co-teacher. She remarks that “he truly cares about his students and is passionate about helping everyone reach their full potential.” Mr. Bellini is a role model, friend, and a mentor for every student he has the opportunity to interact with.