Thank You, Dr. K

Gerry Kuroghlian retires this month, after 42 years as a Staples English teacher.

Yesterday, hundreds of colleagues and friends feted him at The Red Barn.  Their words were heartfelt and loving.   Here’s my contribution:

Dr. Gerald Kuroghlian

Dr. Gerald Kuroghlian

It’s a typical Monday, 7 a.m. in the Staples cafeteria.  A few teachers discuss their weekends:  grading papers, doing yard work, maybe a movie.

Gerry describes his:

I went to a funeral, a baptism, 2 bat mitzvahs, a christening, a Sweet 16 and the Peruvian Feast of the Ignoble Saints Street Fair.  Then Ellen and I flew to Phoenix for my 2nd cousin twice-removed’s 95th birthday party.

Last night we went straight from the airport to New Haven.  It was my 1st grade teacher’s ex-husband’s  neighbor’s daughter-in-law’s play.  She was the assistant lighting director.

It was great.

I get exhausted just hearing about Gerry’s weekends.

He does things like that every single day. The man goes to more celebrations and events – for himself, his family, fellow teachers, students past and present, secretaries, custodians, random strangers – than anyone I know.  He’s a politician without the self-serving need to please.  Half-Armenian, Gerry is 100 percent mensch.

He’s also a Renaissance Man.  Gerry knows all there is to know about literature, art, religion, drama, dance – almost everything in the world.

Except athletics.

That doesn’t stop Gerry, though.   He attends Staples sports that even the International Olympic Committee never heard of.  He has no idea what he’s watching – but he knows the kids, and that’s important.  In return they know he’s there — and they know he cares.

When Gerry says “Weren’t they awesome?” he doesn’t mean “Wasn’t their play (or recital, science fair, art show or water polo game) good?” It means:  “Isn’t it awesome that young person is following his or her passion, developing and maturing and being human?”

Yes, it is awesome.  And the reason those youngsters grow into such wonderful human beings is that Gerry helped set a tone, helped create an environment, at Staples – and in Westport, Fairfield, and well beyond – that allowed them to.

Thank you, Gerry, for all you’ve done for all of us.  Soon, your breakfast buddies look forward to hearing how awesome everyone is at the Mercy Learning Center.

Your new school’s gain is your old school’s loss.  Our profound, deep — and awesome — loss.

6 responses to “Thank You, Dr. K

  1. Indeed Dan. Beautifully said! Gerry is like a stone thrown into still water…his interactions with students created a ripple effect that could carry them very far. He worked in big sweeping ways and many quiet, small ones for us and our kids. GK, thanks!

  2. Dan the speech is equally great the second time around!

  3. I’m honored to say that my daughter has had Dr.K in his last year at Staples, and while she has learned a lot about The Odyssey, Of Mice and Men and other great works, she has learned as much about life! Wow…42 years of touching kids’ lives in such profound ways. Thank you, Dr.K for sharing so much of yourself! Cheers.

  4. As always, Dan, you found the perfect words! I, too, am honored to say that my son had Dr. K.

  5. Eric Buchroeder

    It was my privilege as a 54 year old alumni to have Gerry give me a personal tour of the new SHS three years ago. I had not been back to school since graduation in ’70 or seen him since last attending his class. But it was as if high school was yesterday. We spent a wonderful 3 hours together and celebrated his return to health and teaching after a debilitating illness that had kept him from what he loves doing. Clearly this is a man who has given and received much from his students and I wish him long life and new success in his next venture.

  6. I am crushed that my children are going to miss having Gerry Kuroghlian as a teacher. My love of words, my love of stories, my love of teaching and teachers comes directly from having been in his classes at Staples in the early 1980s. My favorite stories of high school are of Mr. Kuroghlian (“Mr.” then); I have kept my sophomore vocab notebook for over 25 years as a reminder of those days. Thank you for all you did for me, for my friends and for countless other students and families throughout the years. You will be missed.