Warning: It's a lot of words.
Last week was teacher appreciation week.
In past years, I have written to the teacher, principal, and superintendents when my kids have had stellar teachers. This year, I am writing a blog post. To encompass them all. Because they deserve recognition ALL the time.
My kids were day care babies. From a very early age they interacted with people who have been magnificent. I can't say enough about Montrose Child Care Center and the impact this small facility had on my kids.
To this day, some of their best friends are from the baby room. The women in the day care dealt with an infant who was a breath holder. No easy task. They potty trained my toddlers. They had to hire an additional staff member for nap time because I had the kid who wouldn't sleep. The taught them their letters. They taught them manners. They taught them compassion.
They taught ME the same things.
It really is a shame little kids don't remember these caregivers because they are the ones who shine bright in the beginning. Fifty-one weeks a year, five days a week, my kids had quite the day! Fun with friends, learning without even realizing it and getting love from lots of people.
And then they moved to elementary school...
These were the years where the next best friends were made.
It was my kids home for seven years.
I can literally hear the kids on the playground from my house and it is a sound I have come to love. Every Memorial Day there is the parade that comes right past my house - the JOY on the kids faces, especially the little ones, is priceless.
Except for kindergarten, my kids had the same teachers all through elementary school.
Flora Wistreich began Peter's introduction to FGL in kindergarten along with Halette Sharkey. Terry Pierce was Bella's kindergarten teacher. They each went on to have Dory Antonini in 1st grade.
They were fortunate enough to be in a multi-age class in second and third grade - so for one year they were actually in the same class. For three years I had the privilege of working with astounding women. Barbara Pettersen and Robin Dolacky had a profound influence on my entire family. Peter learned public speaking. Bella learned to love, in no particular order, sparkly nail polish, perfume, nice smelling lotions and all things glittery. They both learned script AKA cursive - which will now be a lost art. We started watching American Idol the year Bella was in 2nd grade because it was, indeed, the talk of the classroom. The learned according to where they were in their academic world, not their age.
When Peter was in 4th grade and Bella was in 3rd grade we adopted Tucker, the wonder pup. He was smuggled into the school and loved by all.
Each of my children had the inordinately special Jenny Stack in 4th grade. Love oozes from every inch of her body. She GETS kids. Colonial Day was a hit. During a year when it is testing, testing, testing, they still thrived.
Fourth grade for Bella's class was particularly challenging for Jenny. My friend Janet's son's leukemia returned and he subsequently passed away in March of that year. His twin sister was in a different class and that group of teachers provided a safe haven. They explained what was going on in age appropriate terms, and held them in their hearts when he died.
To this day, this group of kids, now all seniors, remain some of the most compassionate and kind kids I know. They are tight. They are friends, even if they don't all hang out in the same crowd. The have each others backs. Much of the credit has to go to that group of fourth grade teachers and the teachers before them. They knew Jack and Kate and would hold the questions of babies, really, in their hearts to make sure the kids had a grasp of what was happening while letting them still be kids. It was witnessed compassion and you can't make that up.
Fifth grade was a circle of teachers. Preparing our kids for middle school, they went to different teachers - each of them fantastic. Kelly Dyckman had them loving math from the get go. Rita Many moved then forward in reading and writing and science. Megan McConville was the social studies teacher. How much fun was it when we realized Meg's mom had adopted Tucker's mom!
Then, of course, there was the librarian, the art teacher, the music teacher, the band teacher, and even the nurse, where Bella was able to keep a large supply of Barbie Band Aids for anyone in need.
And then they moved up to the middle school...
It takes a special person to teach preteens and teens. Hormones on the warpath makes for some interesting situations.
The place where three elementary schools come together as one.
Each of my kids have always been involved in sports. It made the transition to the middle school a little bit easier since they knew so many kids from the various teams they had been on.
Like at FGL, my kids had the same teachers in middle school from year to year.
I always count who was talked about at the dinner table as the teachers who have made a wonderful impact on my kids.
- Fred Frost - he made reading and essays fun. He expected A LOT from the kids and they delivered.
- Stacey Siegel - suddenly math wasn't too much of a chore. (To the kids...me, I am happy for online banking and Excel!)
- Killy Hayden - social studies was exciting and they loved his first name and the story of how he got it.
- Sean Bugara - the man who made science come to life in the fields and stream by the school. A wild and crazy dude who's idiosyncrasies were laughed about.
- Amy Deegan - Bella fell in love with all things related to genetics this year and it started her on the path towards medicine.
- Kelly McGillicuddy - and once again, reading was fun.
- John Pezzola - "Pez" made dioramas cool and fun - albeit slightly stressful on the parents to find the correct color soldiers.
- Kristin Martenelli - and suddenly three out of four Pinque's were speaking Italian. A love for this romance language was born in her room that continues to this day.
Band, chorus, art, and home and careers need a shout out as my kids have done their own laundry since the week they had to keep track of it for a grade. Amen, amen, amen.
Modified sports began and so did road trips to watch them play at other schools.
The guidance office is stellar.
John Owens talked me off the ledge more than once with his wisdom and his experience at having two kids a couple of years older than mine. Many a tear was shed in his office.
And then they moved to high school...
Here's where my kids continued to blossom under the tutelage of some outstanding educators. They had different teachers and yet they really did have many of the same teachers.
- Scott Perlman - Health. Perhaps one of the most important classes taught in the district - probably a couple of years too late. Be that as it may, his name was in MANY a dinner conversations. Bringing home the babies for the teen baby project made for a loss of sleep for my kids, but they had a small, intense experience with a baby who thankfully wasn't real.
- John Annunziata - History. "Nunz", a democrat who isn't afraid to share his views, definitely made Peter a better debater. He is an intense teacher who helped Peter think outside his comfort zone. He was one of the teachers who took both my kids to Italy last summer, so he holds a special place in my heart.
- Melissa Golia - Italian. She continued the love of Italian with both kids. Bella's classes have always been chatterboxes, really, really smart chatterboxes who somehow manage to do very well while discussing fashion. Melissa was another one of the teachers who took the kids to Italy last summer. Big love to her.
- Andrew Lupien - History and Psych. "Lupe" has been Bella's "go to" teacher when things are hairy. A man who gets this age and who understands the pressures they are under. Bella has spent countless hours in his classroom just shooting the breeze and I am SO incredibly grateful he has been open to letting her vent. Kids need a teacher they can trust and confide in and Drew is just that man. Bella has been to Hawaii and Alaska with him and is heading to Costa Rica with him in July. Obviously, HUGE love to him.
- James Rogulski - English. Anyone who can control a group of seniors who are SO ready to get out gets my vote. Jim DEMANDS good work and he gets it. He also gets respect. These are magnificent qualities in an educator - he is passionate about the books the kids read and he is passionate that their papers are well thought out and not just something they pulled out of their asses in the late hours the night before they are due. Rogo is "the man" according to my kids.
- Corrine Rogulski - English. Corrine developed, designed, and created the class, "Transition to College" for the district. In it, my children wrote their college essays. They decided which schools they would apply to. They figured out the costs of the colleges and universities they liked. They whittled everything down and worked with a precise timeline. THERE IS NO WAY I COULD EVER SAY THANK YOU ENOUGH. Ever. This woman saved my sanity based on what I have heard from other parents whose kids did not take this class. I wrote about Corrine in October 2014 after the school experienced a lock down. She too was in Italy last summer. Again, buckets of love and kisses.
- Richard Zangrilli - Economics and Social Studies. "Z" helped Peter decide on accounting, I am sure, because of economics. He helped Bella many, many times last year. He was a crowd favorite and he was quoted A LOT.
- Joseph Kalata - Math. This man had Bella in his room day in and day out, usually frantic, over math. It was endless. Kalata would talk her off the ledge of mathematical craziness with a regularity that deserves a medal. I know she misses her one on one time with him!
- Meg Greiner - Athletic Trainer. I am convinced there is not another kinder, compassionate, talented, professional Athletic Trainer in the world than Meg. If your kid gets hurt (and my kids have gotten hurt) you want her on the field. You want her in her office each and every day prepping the kids for whatever sport they play. Taping. Icing. Giving them Cup-A-Soup to stop cramping. Meg is an A#1 amazing person and I am totally grateful my kids had her in their lives when they needed her.
- Francois Barcomb - Physics. Francoisbarcomb is really all one word. God bless this man as he had an incredibly bright group of kids asking him a million questions about a subject I can't even fathom taking.
- Erica Denler - Chorus. Bella has thrived in music. There is nothing like the concerts this woman puts on for the three choruses. Enchanting. Beautiful. Moving. My personal favorite is the annual winter concert when the alumni come back to join the current chorus to sing the "Hallelujah Chorus." I cry every time.
- Meg Jandrasits - in Peter's freshman year, Meg taught THE class that got Peter interested in accounting. It was five years ago and my brain is mush now, so I don't remember the name of the class, but boy, oh boy, did she get him interested in business and numbers and money!
I must also give shout outs to Maura Koch for making accounting interesting for Peter and for her steadfast belief in his abilities. Christine Caiazzi for being Bella's confident as well as chaperone in Hawaii, Alaska and the upcoming Costa Rica trip. She is Bella's PIG (Part In Government) teacher this year, so she finally has her for a teacher as well as a mentor. Buckets of love to Caiaz! Bernie Small for making Peter laugh through math - and Bella cry. Stephen Purcigliotti - AKA "Stevie P" for also chaperoning in Italy and for Peter's senior year of social studies. Antonietta Gliubizzi - AKA Senora Gliubizzi, for finishing up Bella's final year of Italian with not only a trip to the opera but to Little Italy as well. Clare Carey - who made sure Peter has a muffin or two last year and who would let my kids eat even when their account balances dipped into negative numbers.
And then, they graduated.
There are no perfect teachers. There are no perfect students. But there are perfect teachers for each kid and mine have been fortunate to have more than a few.
Our kids got a great education that has prepared them well for college. And it started when they were just babies.
Peter is home from his first year at college and he is a delight to be with. He has matured. He has always been funny, now he's funnier. I cried when he left for college last year. That was silly. He will be home until September 6. ALMOST FOUR MONTHS. There is zero reason for tears ever again.
Bella is weeks away from graduation. She has three AP tests in the bag and one on Friday. I see her FINALLY starting to relax. She still wants excellent grades, but she's no longer insane about it.
My most sincere thanks to the teachers and every single staff member who have had such a positive impact on the lives of my kids. You don't have to be labeled a teacher to teach. You just have to care. You did and do make a difference with what you do.
You may have summers "off" but boy you have to be ON when they are in the throes of each milestone in their lives, and for that, you deserve a summer off. And even more thanks.
Here's to you. I appreciate you all.
Who always lend a helping hand, to help show us the way.
This song is for those, who see their students through;
The tough times in their lives, for that we say thank you.