ROTARY CLUB HONORS EFFORTS OF THREE EXEMPLARY TEACHERS

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METHUEN — In a room was filled with friends and family, the Methuen-Salem Rotary Club honored three educators at its annual Teacher of Year luncheon last month at the Sweetheart Inn.

“This is the largest group of supporters we’ve had in the eight years of doing this,” said club Vice President Charles Perrault.

Timony Grammar School’s Mary Lou Fusco, Presentation of Mary Academy’s Rita Lucey and the Woodbury School’s Patrick Moeschen were the three honorees.

“You’re a rock star,” Perrault said of the Methuen public schools Teacher of the Year Mary Lou Fusco.

Fusco is a Title I teacher at the Timony Grammar School, who in the words of Mary Jean Fawcett, “closes the gap in reading and math.”

Fusco was not just honored at the luncheon but at school as well. “You have no idea the kind of day I’ve had,” Fusco said. “There were signs all over the school; people banging on the windows. It was glorious.”

Fawcett even declared the day Mrs. Fusco Day at the Timony.

Principal Rose Maria Redmond of Presentation of Mary spoke briefly about how grateful PMA is to be included in the ceremony and that she was honored to represent the school.

“She’s really Auntie Rita to me,” Redmond said of honoree Rita Lucey, chair of the science department. “I’ve known her all my life.”

Redmond explained Lucey involves herself in all aspects of PMA, not just the science department, which is extremely appreciated by the students, staff and faculty.

Lucey said when she started teaching, she thought she could mold minds simply by talking in detail. “I quickly learned that was not the case,” Lucey admitted.

Maura Palmer, principal of the Woodbury School in Salem, apologized to band teacher Patrick Moeschen for “not making it Mr. Moeschen day.”

But noted that the year belonged to him instead.

“This truly is his year because he’s also the Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year in Salem,” Palmer said. “Anyone who knows Patrick loves Patrick.”

Moeschen said he had a couple of other careers in mind before deciding to become a band teacher.

“I thought I wanted to record music or become an all-star rock drummer,” Moeschen said. “My other childhood dream was to play center field for the Red Sox; obviously that didn’t happen.”

The crowd laughed as Moeschen continued.

“I teach life through my classroom,” Moeschen explained. “We are counselors, we are policemen and we are friends. I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

The teachers were each presented with a certificate from the Rotary for their accomplishment and each was eager to get back to the classroom, even though they were given the day off by their principals.

Have a story idea? Gayle Simone can be reached at 978-970-4838 or by e-mail at gsimone@thevalleydispatch.com.