Beloved History Teacher Leaving Edward Little

Social studies teacher Ryan LaRoche a 20-year veteran of Edward Little High School, leaves today to pursue a new job as dean of students at Leavitt High School.

Social studies teacher Ryan LaRoche, a 20-year veteran of Edward Little High School, leaves today to start a new job as dean of students at Leavitt High School.

By Jake Bazinet, ’15

After 20 years as an educator at Edward Little High School, history teacher Ryan Laroche is parting ways for a new opportunity as dean of students at Leavitt Area High School.

After graduating in 1990 from Edward Little, LaRoche went to Springfield College in Massachusetts. As a high school student, LaRoche was a part of a study group and found that he had a high interest in history and did very well academically. Essentially he became a tutor to the class. From this he knew history was definitely an area that he had ability to help himself and others learn in. “History has pretty much been my focus from the start.” Entering Springfield, he entered as a history secondary education major.

After graduating in the spring of 1994, he applied for teaching positions throughout Massachusetts and Maine and ended up starting his career as an educational technician for staff development, or in-school substitute, here at Edward Little. He was laid off that year due to budget cuts, though. LaRoche had to find a job soon after he was let go but the job opportunities were slim. “The application pool was gigantic, the job pool was tiny,” he said.

Luckily, his former American history teacher, Ms. Mayo, decided to transfer to the English department during the 1995-96 school year, opening up a position in the history department. LaRoche was able to take over her position, beating out nine other interviewees. For his first nine years, LaRoche taught college prep American history, but then switched to junior honors, where he has been ever since.

LaRoche’s experience has taught him a great deal about working with students.”It’s important to build relationships with your students,” he said. “Get to know them. Get to know what they’re about. Don’t be afraid to incorporate humor. Don’t be afraid to talk about what’s going on outside of school that interests the students. And always try to find a way to relate what you’re doing to your students lives.”

Both principal Jim Miller and former assistant principal Steve Galway have been a important mentors to LaRoche, he said. “If both were asked, they would say you put the kids needs first,” said LaRoche, “and if asked them how to do that there are three steps: relationships, relationships, relationships.” To LaRoche, they were right. “It’s why you’re here. It’s why you teach,” he said. “It’s not because you love history. It’s not because you love a certain teaching method. It’s because you want to incorporate knowledge into your students.”

Principal Miller has conflicted feelings about seeing LaRoche leave. “Two things. One is I feel bad for the kids because of the time he’s put in and the quality of the educator that he is,” he said. “I also realize that he’s going to have a greater impact as an administrator and kids at Leavitt will have the advantage of that.”

Miller said the door is always open for LaRoche to return. “I’m hoping where there’s the opportunity he can come back,” he said.

LaRoche has never dreaded walking through the front doors of Edward Little each morning. “I don’t go to work everyday. I go to school,” he said. “I enjoy what I do. I like being around teenagers, what I teach, and how I’m able to teach. I like keeping it interesting and changing things up.”

Part of what LaRoche has enjoyed about his job is the freedom he’s had to change his curriculum to keep his students engaged. “Keeping it interesting is definitely a big piece of making it fun,” he said. “But honestly, I’m here because I love working with kids and I enjoy what I do.”

To LaRoche, the new position is a great opportunity moving into the administrative realm, a longtime dream of his. For some time now, LaRoche has been working on his prerequisites to becoming an administrator. “I have been working on my masters degree, starting ten years ago. It took me eight years to finish up my masters. I was actually certified for assistant principal three years into it. And even after getting my certification I realized that I wasn’t quite prepared and I needed to learn more and do more.” LaRoche finished his masters program which included a very intense internship and was completed two school years ago. “That pretty much got me ready.”

He also thinks Leavitt is a good fit. “But the hardest part about this opportunity was leaving during a school year. My classes this year are phenomenal. It’s going to be hard leaving those relationships, especially to my seniors. Leaving the track program will not be easy but the experience I’m going to get from this job is worth making the change.”

After many interviews, LaRoche got a phone call offering him the position. From there he went to Miller and superintendent Katy Grondin to ensure his position as a classroom teacher could be replaced. He was approved at the school board last Thursday. Once the position is filled, LaRoche will start.

Senior Lilly Linscott, a track team member coached by LaRoche, is happy for him. “I feel like it’s a really good opportunity for him,” she said, “and I’m glad he took it.”

English teacher Cathy Adamson also has high hopes. “I’m going to miss him when he leaves because he’s been a great resource for kids in this building,” she said. “I am very happy for him to take this opportunity because that’s been his goal for a long time now. He’s also shown a lot of leadership, certainly as a coach and as a teacher with good ideas.”

LaRoche is happy about the move, but there’s still a bit of sadness about leaving the school he’s called home for two decades. “There’s a lot of mixed emotions,” he said. “A lot of my peers are very happy for me and have seen my drive for this position. They’ve seen my growth, going from a classroom teacher to having more of a sense of building operations and big picture pieces. They’re also sad that I’m leaving. A lot of the staff members are my friends and some even former teachers. I’m feeling the same emotion of leaving here as I feel the same way leaving them. However, it’s not like I’m going to be far away. I’ll still see people and come to athletic events. It will be different not driving down Harris Street every day to go to school.”

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