Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mrs. Francis Dilulio

Today I will discuss another retirement. Mrs. Dilulio’s last day in the district is today. Mrs. D. grew up in Johnsonburg, the oldest daughter in a family of seven. She feels that her experience helping younger siblings instilled in her a desire to become a teacher. As a matter of fact, she says, “I never thought that there was any other option in my life other than going to college and becoming a teacher”. Mrs. D. graduated from Edinboro University in 1977 and immediately started to work as a long term substitute in Ridgway. Mrs. D. has spent the past 33 years teaching and has taught in every grade from Kindergarten to 8th grade (with the exception of 7th grade). She has spent the last 18 years as a second grade teacher.

I know a little bit more about Mrs. D’s teaching because my oldest daughter was blessed to have her as a teacher two years ago. Mrs. D. cultivated a side of our daughter that is very hard to “get out”. Mrs. D. has the uncanny ability to make every child feel as if every interaction in the classroom is personal to only them. Mrs. D. is simply one of the best teachers that you will experience anywhere. She creates an atmosphere of caring that allows all of her students to thrive and learn. Her expectations for academic excellence and behavior are very high and the kids consistently meet and exceed those standards. Visiting Mrs. D. today was very hard for me personally and professionally. It was difficult personally because of the deepest respect I have for her as a person. It was hard professionally because the school district simply cannot replace a teacher of the quality of Mrs. Dilulio.

I cannot forget to mention that Mrs. D. has had a “partner” in education for the past 27 years. Mrs. D. and Mrs. Mercer have been working alongside each other for the majority of their careers. Mrs. Mercer arrived a few years after Mrs. D. when Mrs. Mercer was hired in the middle school. The two moved to the elementary school together 18 years ago to teach second grade where they have been ever since. While visiting Mrs. D. today I was impressed with how much respect these two educators have for each other. As Mrs. D. told me “We are like sisters”.

I asked Mrs. D. what her biggest reward that she got from teaching she replied, “My biggest reward is seeing my students when they are grown up and succeeding in the real world; how amazing to realize that the high school principal, many of my co-workers, and even my mother’s home nurse were once taught by me”. Mrs. D. continues by saying that “Teaching has truly captivated my life”.

Finally, I have a story that speaks to the power of Mrs. D’s influence on her students. A few years ago one of our middle school students was struggling academically and emotionally. The student was in danger of dropping out. In a last ditch attempt to prevent that from happening our school psychologist asked the student if there was anyone in their life that they could hear from that would help them in her situation. The student immediately said, “Mrs. Dilulio”. Mrs. D. quickly sent a “care” package to the student and started a correspondence with the student that helped them through the tough patch. I can’t think of a better testament to an outstanding teacher.

No comments:

Post a Comment