Mercy!

Gerry Kuroghlian may be the most passionate person I know.

For over 40 years, his passion was teaching English. Generations of Staples students were inspired by his incredible enthusiasm for Shakespeare, his “Myth and Bible” course, writing, and everything else associated with the school.

Dr. Gerry Kuroghlian

Dr. Gerry Kuroghlian

Gerry retired 4 years ago. His passions now are helping seniors at Bridgeport’s Kolbe Cathedral High School with their college essays, and tutoring at Mercy Learning Center.

Mercy — also in Bridgeport — provides basic literacy and life skills training to low-income, under-educated, marginalized women. It’s an amazing organization, and dozens of Westporters donate their time and energy there too.

Over Thanksgiving, Gerry and his wife Ellen were enjoying a stay at the Hawthorne Inn in Concord, Massachusetts. They began chatting with another family. Gerry mentioned Mercy Learning Center. The family wanted to know more. Gerry happily told them all he knew. That was that.

Until this week.

Mercy Learning Center called to tell Gerry they’d received a $10,000 donation from strangers. It was the family he’d told all about Mercy.

Some call it a miracle.

I call it the kind of thing that happens when Gerry Kuroghlian spreads his warmth and passion with whomever he meets.

Mercy Learning Center

19 responses to “Mercy!

  1. What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing, Dan. It’s great to see people drawing upon their resources to help people acquire skills to improve their lives.

  2. Fabulous story. I know Ellen and Gerry a little; I’m so glad Gerry’s enthusiasm prompted a gift to Mercy Learning Center, which I also know about. Catherine Onyemelukwe, conyemelukwe@gmail.com.

  3. I came to know Gerry Kuroghlian when I worked at Westport Library. His enthusiasm, kindness, and generosity of time and talents enriched everyone he came in contact with. And now, Mercy Learning Center benefits from him spreading the word as only he can.

  4. Gerry was, and I’m sure still is, an incredible teacher. His Shakespeare and Myth and Bible classes changed my life. What a gift he gave me and others in sharing his passion and love for learning and literature. While we’re at it, Dan you were/are pretty good at passionate teaching too.

  5. This is wonderful to hear but doesn’t surprise me at all. Dr. K was a gift to Staples!

    (BTW, the president of Mercy, Jane Ferreira, also has a Westport connection: she was in charge of the CCD program at St. Luke’s in the early 90s. I confess that I was frequently sent to her office during that time…)

  6. Love this story! Gerry was not one of my teachers back in the day but I got to know him through Staples soccer. It’s great to hear about his wonderful ongoing work.

  7. Mr. K was one of my favorite teachers at Staples 38 years ago!! So glad to hear what wonderful work he is doing now!!!
    Tracy Flood

  8. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I never had Mr. K as a teacher when I attended Staples. However, I went to college and got my teaching degree. Was unable to find a full time teaching job so I subbed locally. Was assigned to sub at Tomlinson in Fairfield and met his lovely wife there. She was a teacher and we had lunch together. When I heard her last name I just knew she had to be related to Mr. K. They have a very uncommon last name and we spent the lunch time talking about Staples and her husband. At the time he was still teaching at Staples.

  9. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    “Gerry The K” was one of my teachers and as a troubled 60’s child I was not ready for his passion and desire to impart his love for his craft upon his students. We clashed as two strong personalities sometimes do. I returned to town on a visit 32 years later and he greeted me like a long-lost friend, gave me a personal tour of the new Staples followed by a wonderful reunion at the Peppermill (before it closed). This is how he treats “drop-ins.” His capacity knows no bounds as does the deep respect and affection he inspires even from 54 year old juveniles. Bridgeport has never known a better teacher and there is a God.

  10. Lucinda Mirk Setnicka

    I loved “Mr. K” as we knew him – SO CHALLENGING! I had him as a senior (class of ’70) and I think we had to do some sort of research project…and he was really honest about how lame mine was initially…he worked with me and it ended up being much better. For the life of me I can’t remember what the topic was, but the end product was really good, thanks to his coaching and support. That’s the mark of a great teacher – THANK YOU, Mr. K!

  11. To everyone heaping praise on “Mr. K”: For at least 20 years now, he’s had his doctorate. So that’s “Dr. K” to you!

    • Lucinda Mirk Setnicka

      Right…I could see that…but I had to address him as we knew him…because I think we all thought it was pretty cool to refer to him that way…AND, now having a married name that is likely as difficult to pronounce as his, I understand why he went that direction!

  12. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Dr. K is one of the few Staples teachers I recall. He taught us how to write a Research Paper, something every University student must do very, very well. I also remember that on the first day of class I pretended not to be related to my own brothers, one being his very least favourite student (!)
    How good it is to hear of “retired” teachers not really retiring. Especially, the great ones.

  13. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    Gerry is a treasure that has been shared with so many of us over the years. As my teacher, mentor and friend he bestowed on me a love for Shakespeare and the classics, an understanding of the great religions and the gift of knowing that there are some very good people like him still out there.
    Merry Christmas Dr K

  14. Way to go Gerry! Among his many other commitments, Gerry also found time this fall to catch a few soccer games, a perfect time for us to catch up. Way back when, my dad and fellow Staples teachers called Gerry “Gerry the K,” which always had a special ring to it!

  15. Werner Liepolt

    Gerry is doing great things at Mercy… Wouldn’t it be a great holiday gesture for his former Staples students to rally and match or surpass the $10,000 donation to Mercy described in this entry?

  16. Gerry Kuroghlian

    Thank you all for the nice comments. I really like Werner’s idea of gifts that keep on giving. Having taught at a great school, STAPLES, for 43 years, ,I am privileged to volunteer at another fabulous school, The Mercy Learning Center. The all woman run school transforms the lives of the immigrant women who attend :as well as the lives of their children. Few can ,donate $10,000.00 : however, the center can benefit from many $10.00 donations. Check out THE MERCY LEARNING CENTER FOR WOMEN on Facebook.

  17. I remember Dr. K from when my kids were at Staples, and, of course, from his reputation as one not-to-miss-teacher. I’m thrilled that he’s involved with Mercy, since my faith home, The Unitarian Church in Westport, has recently adopted The Mercy Learning Center as part of its social justice outreach, providing tutors and material goods. It is such rewarding work!