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:
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.
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.