Spatola: from student to teacher


Jason Turner

Spatola teaching class

Anthony Spatola is very excited to be part of Hillsborough Community College. He is the newest Veterinary Technology instructor on the Plant City campus.

Spatola says, “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be here. It’s a close family group and everyone knows each other like at ‘Cheers.’”

Outside of teaching, Spatola is a family man at heart. He has an 8-year old stepdaughter and a 5-month old son. He spends as much time with his family as possible. He also loves being outdoors and going to family-oriented festivals.

Spatola started his life at HCC as a student. His fiancée was an ESE specialist at an elementary school when they moved from Sarasota to Tampa for her job. Spatola was able to  volunteer at the Hillsborough County Animal Shelter while taking classes on the Dale Mabry campus. He was accepted into the Vet Tech program, and he says, “It was the best experience.

After graduation, Spatola went to work for Brandon Lakes Animal Hospital as a technician in training and at Blue Pearl. After passing his Veterinarian Technician National Exam, he returned to work at the county animal shelter for five years. He says he enjoyed every experience there, but this summer, the opportunity to teach at HCC opened and could not resist.

This semester, Spatola teaches Animal Anatomy lecture and lab and Clinical Practice. Next semester, he looks forward to teaching Large Animal Nursing, Work Experience and Clinical Pathology Lab I. He says, it will be exciting to do some of the offsite work involved with Large Animal Nursing. He wants to be able to see how students work outside the classroom setting in the pathology lab.

Instructors want their students to do well, and Spatola is no different.

“My teaching philosophy is I’ll tell you what I’m going to tell you. Then I’m going to tell you. Then I’ll tell you what I told you,” Spatola says. “It’s important to take everything that’s offered in the program and break it down so everyone understands it. I tailor teaching to individuals rather than talk to groups, and I’m always offering extra guidance and help with studying.”

Spatola wants to be able to relate real-life experiences with what’s in the books and core materials of the class. He stresses that veterinary medicine is just like any other type of medicine, and there is a lot of responsibility because vets have real lives at stake. He adds that continued education is a must in order to keep up with changes in technology and medicine.

He also knows there are a lot of veterinarians who feel burned out, and says, “If you feel you can’t do your job with the same passion as when you start, take a step back and figure out what you need to change to get the balance back.”

To students, Spatola advises, “Study hard and try to get the most out of your education. People can take away everything except your education.”

Spatola offers the following words of wisdom to everyone: “Don’t settle for something you just feel comfortable with. Find your niche, no matter how long it takes. Be extraordinary because nobody was put on the earth to be ordinary.”