Our happy journey through K-12 public schools started with Marilyn ORegan almost 20 years ago and ended this week when our youngest child graduated from high school.
Mrs. ORegan was our first kindergarten teacher. She taught at Eastover Elementary in Charlotte, which at the time was not a sought-after school, at least not by many of our neighbors.
But the oldest of our three daughters was embraced by ORegan and her assistant, Lib Nicholas, on the first day of class in August 1995 and immediately fell in love with school.
ORegan, 65, retired two years ago after teaching for 24 years. When I reached her by phone this week, she remembered details about my daughter and family, including my wifes name.
At Christmas, she gets cards from former students. On the day we spoke, she received photos on her phone of fifth-graders, graduating from elementary school, whom she had taught as kindergartners.
The gratifying part was just how much impact you had on these little lives, ORegan told me. To see the growth and development in that first important year it touched me like magic.
ORegans daughter and daughter-in-law are teachers. I told ORegan that my oldest daughter teaches first grade in a school in which nearly all of the children are from low-income families. ORegan said she was proud and thought that maybe in a little corner of my heart, maybe I influenced her just a little bit. I know she did.
Eventually, after three years in another school system in another state, we ended up in Raleigh and at Broughton High School. Physics teacher Dave Corsetti never taught my daughters but worked with each in his role as an adviser to the Service Club and Caps Camp, which takes about 175 students to Camp Kanata near Wake Forest for a weekend of team building.
Corsetti, 48, has taught for 25 years. Itd take a lot to pull me out of the classroom, he said the day after graduation, as he tidied up his room, surrounded by about 30 empty seats. I get to come here every day and unveil the wonders of science to teenagers. Thats as good as it gets.
Corsetti loves his subject matter. I get geeked out by the science, he said. But, he added, I love being with kids. I love the interaction with kids.
More than science
Corsetti, the father of a rising sophomore at Broughton, hopes his students will learn more than science. He wants teens from different backgrounds to work together to solve problems scientific and otherwise. I want them to enjoy science, but I want them to be inspired about learning in general, he said.
Our three daughters spent a combined total of nearly 40 years in classrooms in three public school systems.
All of those years were good and most were better than good. The vast majority of those who taught at or ran our six schools were committed to the children and good at their work.
Our daughters enjoyed K-12 so much that they seem to want to stay there: One is teaching; one will teach in a public school when she graduates from college; and our recent high school graduate is considering a career as a teacher.
So heres to Marilyn ORegan at the beginning, Dave Corsetti at the end, and all of the other devoted teachers, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, counselors, teacher assistants and coaches who educated our children and had their best interests at heart. We could never thank you enough.
Drescher: 919-829-4515 or email@example.com; Twitter: @john_drescher