2011 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Paul D. Failla
Seven years into his tenure as a Suffolk County police officer, Paul D. Failla received an assignment that would change the course of his life. He became a recruitment officer — charged with talking to large groups of teenagers and young adults about how to prepare for a career in law enforcement. Sharing the themes of civility, citizenship and good character soon became a calling.
In 1999, he launched his own character education programs, starting at Longwood High School in Middle Island. Since then, he has been asked to speak throughout the tri-state area and as far away as California.
Much of what he shares during his programs he credits to his parents, Paul and Rose Failla.
He said they taught him to account for his actions, to live his life through his values and go after his goals. And those are lessons he believes every student should be taught.
During his "Class of Life" presentation, he also teaches a number of other oft-neglected skills, such as how to tie a tie, shine shoes or use the words "yes, no, ma'am and sir."
A seasoned actor who has performed in more than 60 regional theater productions, Failla always blends humor and drama into his programs. "I take today's youth on a two-hour, one-man show that is an emotional rollercoaster," he said.
A sought-after speaker, Failla has presented at the New York State Bar Association's Law, Youth and Citizenship Statewide Conferences, New York State Social Studies and Supervisory Association Conventions, the Long Island Council for the Social Studies, Long Island University Administrators/ Faculty Conference and the New York State Association of Police Chiefs Conference.
He periodically taught Ethical Awareness as a continuing education instructor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice through the office of Special Programs/ Continuing and Professional Studies.
Failla retired from the Suffolk County Police Department in 2007 after 27 years so that he could devote more time to his character education programs and his family.
He lives in Miller Place, N.Y., with his wife Dale and two daughters.