Sam Giordano had been a firefighter for more than two decades when he made the leap into teaching, training those on the future front lines from the front of a Harper College classroom.
Giordano, who heads up Harper's Fire Science Technology Department, has been named one of the Top 14 fire instructors in the Midwest for 2013 by the nonprofit FireScience.org, which wants to highlight educators who have made a mark in the classroom, on campus or in the community.
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"Our goal with the top instructors project is to recognize some of the very best educators and mentors in fire science," says Matt Davis, managing director of FireScience.org.
Giordano started his career with the Frankfort Fire Protection District in 1974 and started the department's first paramedic program about a decade later. He also has served as fire officer and EMS director with the Argonne Fire Department, worked as director of training and safety with other area departments. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the U.S. Department of Energy Outstanding Lifesaving Award.
Since joining Harper's faculty in 2002, Giordano has launched the Public Safety Dispatcher and Emergency and Disaster Management programs, and now oversees an internship program allowing Harper students to apply what they've learned in the classroom at a partnering fire station.
"The most important part of my career has been my time at Harper, because I'm able help give students an opportunity to do the kind of fulfilling work that brought me so much joy," Giordano says. "It's about helping them succeed, and I'm humbled to be recognized for it."