Devoted Teacher and Dreamcatcher Stan: A Profile of Anthony Del Latto

A profile of mathematics teacher and Dreamcatcher fan Anthony Del Latto

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By Anthony Del Latto

The official YouTube channel of Korean girl group Dreamcatcher posted a video on September 14 that featured a familiar face: mathematics teacher Anthony Del Latto. Del Latto appeared on a special segment known as SingCarLive with Dreamcatcher’s Siyeon, who accompanied him on the drive from the airport to his hotel in Seoul. Throughout the video, he expressed his love of K-pop and teaching.

Del Latto’s journey to becoming an educator has been full of highs and lows. He found his passion for math while attending Sewanhaka High School on Long Island, and went on to attend Adelphi University, where he majored in mathematics. During an in-person interview, he explained that taking pre-calculus in his junior year of high school was influential in his decision to pursue math in college. “Things started clicking for me and I was like, ‘This is something I want to study in college,’” Del Latto said. 

Though Del Latto was mathematically proficient in high school, he initially faced difficulties in college. “When I got exposed to proofs in Linear Algebra, it didn’t feel like the math that I knew. That was my first time getting exposed to doing proofs in math because I didn’t go to a high school like Stuyvesant [...] so I didn’t do a lot of proofs in geometry class,” Del Latto explained. He considered dropping the major, but stuck with it and broadened his mathematical understanding from simple computations to complex theories. 

He was inspired by his experiences as a student-tutor at Adelphi University to pursue a career as an educator. His friends and colleagues commended him for his ability to provide clear explanations of complicated concepts. His perseverance and work ethic made his teaching dreams a reality.

Though he initially wanted to become a professor, he realized that his passions were more aligned with teaching high school students. “Originally I wanted to be a professor. I wanted to teach in college, but after undergraduate [studies], I went to grad school [at NYU] for pure math. I didn’t like it—it was almost too theoretical,” Del Latto said. He stated that his experience teaching ice hockey to high school students influenced his decision. 

Prior to arriving at Stuyvesant, Del Latto was a student teacher at The School at Columbia University and he completed his high school placement at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. Then, he earned his master’s degree in Math Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and was presented with the opportunity to teach at Stuyvesant. “My advisor at Teachers College, Dr. Stuart Weinberg, [who] taught at Stuyvesant for a very long time, was very close friends with the [Assistant Principal of the Mathematics Department] at the time, Maryann Ferrara. He recommended me to her and that’s how I got hired here at the school,” Del Latto said. He is now in his 10th year of teaching at Stuyvesant.

This past summer, Del Latto worked with students in the Discovery Program. He came across SingCarLive while scrolling through his YouTube feed and found a community post with an application for the program. He had already been an avid Dreamcatcher fan for five or six years, discovering them through one of their music videos. Since he had already planned a vacation to South Korea (the video location) for August, he decided to fill out the form and hope for the best. In his application, he wrote about his desire to learn more about Korean culture, his plans to teach in South Korea, and his vacation plans. “I had two main reasons for [going to South Korea]: vacation, and to see if I would like to teach there. I heard that [the Korean education system] is rigorous and I think that it would make me a better teacher here as well,” Del Latto explained.

To his surprise, he received a congratulatory email from Dreamcatcher Company’s address explaining that he had won the opportunity to be featured. “I double-checked because I didn’t know if it was a scam or something, so I took the Korean name and translated it, and it was actually Dreamcatcher Company. I looked all over and this was their legitimate email,” Del Latto said. Numerous long email chains later, he landed at Incheon Airport, where Siyeon and her team were awaiting his arrival.

Upon his arrival, Del Latto’s biggest surprise was that there was no prior content preparation for the episode. There was no script for them to follow nor security to escort them. Del Latto felt that this made the conversation more genuine, with the entire segment maintaining a casual tone, even with the necessary presence of a translator. “Nothing was planned, and that is very rare in the entertainment industry [from my observation of Korean media culture]. That conversation took place at that moment, no script. I think that’s what made it really special. It’s obviously not normal for K-pop idols to interact with fans outside of fan sightings or concerts, so this was something that was very rare,” Del Latto recalled.

The 13-minute video consisted of rapid-fire questions from Siyeon aimed to get to know Del Latto, including why he came to Korea, what he loves most about Dreamcatcher, and fun facts about himself. Del Latto also got the chance to ask Siyeon a few questions about her favorite Dreamcatcher songs and music videos, what her goals were before becoming an idol, and her favorite pastimes both in Korea and the United States. Then, Siyeon sang Del Latto’s song request for the segment: “Entrancing.” The interview ended with Del Latto gifting Siyeon merchandise that he had brought from New York. “She was a completely different person off the stage than she was on the stage. She’s known for her intimidating stage presence, but she was the nicest person. I just found it very cool how she has that level of fame and I did not feel like she was treating me like she was above me, even as a foreigner,” Del Latto commented.

After attending the program, Del Latto spent almost two weeks exploring various destinations in South Korea, including Seoul, Busan, and Jeju Island. He mentioned going to an arts exhibition dedicated to IU (another K-pop star he is a fan of), strolling through malls, and generally immersing himself in the local culture. Additionally, in the video with Dreamcatcher, he mentioned that he intended to visit Yonsei University and the Starfield Library. “I do understand the culture very well, I think. [...] Everything was in Korean and I had to use my phone translator a lot, but I was surprised the people at the counter [of the exhibit] knew perfect English when I got the tickets. When I did the whole experience, I did not feel out of place, I felt treated like I wasn’t a foreigner,” Del Latto said.

He also discovered numerous teaching opportunities through year-round English language classes, hagwons (private education centers), and summer camps. He noted that his lack of proficiency in Korean wasn’t a major barrier for him in finding jobs because many Koreans want the opportunity to speak and to learn from a native English speaker. “Some of these jobs actually want someone who doesn’t know any Korean because they want the kids to have the full experience. If I find something during this winter, I’ll definitely be doing it over the summer,” Del Latto said. He emphasized that he neither plans to leave Stuyvesant any time soon, nor does he plan to pursue these opportunities during the school year.

From an interview with one of the biggest K-pop stars to discovering job opportunities, Del Latto’s experience in Korea had him yearning for more. “I’m going to go back to Seoul because there is a lot more to explore there, maybe just doing a week in Seoul if I don’t get some kind of job there over the summer,” Del Latto said. His appreciation for Korea reflects his eagerness to teach students and his open-minded attitude toward different cultures.