Mike Cappello is an adaptive physical education teacher at the Dartmouth Public Schools and a Special Olympics Massachusetts coach. Twenty three years ago, he started a Special Olympics track and field team. As his students graduated, he also started a “graduates” program. Three years ago, the Dartmouth program added flag football and basketball teams, and Cappello has recruited and mentored new coaches for both of these programs.
Cappello organizes and manages the annual Dartmouth School Day Games each May, where students from Dartmouth, New Bedford, Fall River, and Westport participate in a track and field meet. What started as a meet with roughly 50 Dartmouth students has turned into an event for over 200 students across four different communities.
On October 2nd, Cappello, along with a class of athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and sponsors, will be recognized at the 2014 Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA.
Recently, Cappello expanded his roster to start a Unified track program in Dartmouth. Of this new challenge, Mike said, “I’ve never seen my athletes so excited about a competition. With an individual sport like track and field, this taught them the importance of teamwork, something they love and depend on, not only in sports, but in the classroom, at home and in the community”.
Last spring, Dartmouth parents nominated Cappello for the “Live with Kelly and Michael Teacher of the Year” contest. Mike beat out thousands of other teachers to be in the Top 15 semi-finalist category. As part of the nomination, a parent told Kelly and Michael that, “He’s built the confidence of my daughter, and he’s done that for many kids over many years. He’s got the tough love, but he’s got a way about him that he can get kids to do what they need to do without becoming someone less. It comes naturally to him, he just does it because it’s the right thing to do”.