Source: Sherman Publications

Open letter to former Eliz. Street School students

April 13, 2011

The year was 1981. Gas prices were skyrocketing, teacher layoff slips were being passed out, and Lee Iacocca was trying to save Chrysler from going under. For the Staley family, the future looked quite uncertain. I was a sixth grade teacher having taught 13 years in Lake Orion at Elizabeth Street School and facing a layoff.

Although I loved my classes, my school, and the families, it was time for me to look for security elsewhere. It was at this time that I was offered a teaching position overseas. Twenty years later, after teaching in an American school, I retired and returned to the states and settled in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.

When I look back on those early teaching days at Elizabeth Street School I see names like Harlan Johnson, Fred Snow, Fred Ehman, Mike La Magna, Barb Berthiume, Jim Hoag, Howard Sawicke, George Paxton, and Mary Genereux.

All were instrumental in my early days in the classroom but none were as important as the one person who took me under her guidance and inspired me to stay in education and gain the confidence to go on for a career that lasted 39 years in the classroom. Her name was Helen Chapin.

I never was able to tell her how much she meant to me during a time I was actually looking toward a different profession. Mrs. Chapin . . . every school in America needs a Helen Chapin!

Now, after 30 years, my wife and I are planning to return to the Orion area and spend the month of September on the Lake where we first met.

The purpose for this open letter is my attempt to make contact with former students that I have taught from 1968-1981. I would very much enjoy hearing from them and sharing some memories.

If any of my former students are reading this, my e-mail address is: