FULTON – Students at Fulton Junior High School have a new principal this year – Marc Copani, a previous assistant principal, teacher – and professional wrestler.
The Syracuse native came to Fulton as the assistant principal at G. Ray Bodley High School in 2015.
At the end of the school year, he began going over to the junior high school often to work with the outgoing principal, Chris Leece and spoke with the incoming 7th graders to talk about their own transition to the school.
He got his bachelor’s degree in adolescent education social studies, his Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and his C.A.S. in education leadership all at SUNY Oswego. Prior to Fulton, he spent four years teaching global studies to 9th and 10th grade students at Hannibal High School.
Copani has been in education for almost a decade, but before that, he had a brief career in the early 2000s as a World Wrestling Entertainment professional wrestler under the ring name Muhammad Hassan.
“What was happening in the world, it started to cross the line and we lost a lot of support from sponsors, so they pulled the character,” Copani said.
He said he worked and traveled around the world with the ring name for about a year before that happened.
“I’ve also learned to work hard and persevere in the face of adversity,” Copani said. “I was told by my trainers I wasn’t big enough and too quiet and not to get my hopes up about ever making it into the WWE, but I stuck with it regardless and ended up succeeding. This is something I still use today and a message I am constantly relaying to kids.”
He said he has been able to take some skills from his previous career to his current one, such as communicating with others and building positive relationships that benefit everyone.
“Wrestling was about working with all different kinds of people in various perspectives and I learned a lot on how I fit into that picture, and what my skill set is, and how to better utilize it to work with people,” Copani said.
Copani comes from a family of educators and said he wanted a job where he could make an impact on people’s lives, so he combined his knack for teaching and love of history to become a global studies teacher.
He said he aims to be a role model for the children and to empower them to be the best versions of themselves, that they can do what they want with dedication.
“I always say ‘Why not? Why not you? If that’s what you want to do, then you need to dedicate yourself, make a sacrifice, put the work in it and do it,’” Copani said. “I like having that sort of impact on kids.”
Copani will be hosting and meet and greet for parents of junior high school students August 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the school.
“It is one of the most important things that we can do in our society – prepare future generations to be successful and carry the torch, so to speak,” Copani said. “I love thinking about it in large, big picture terms – that we are bettering the lives of our students and we’re making the world a better place.”