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Neighbors of DuPage

Mark DeLay School: It's all in the family

by Mary Andersen 

When you walk into Mark DeLay School, you instantly feel like you are part of something special. We may not all be related, but we treat each other with a special loyalty that goes beyond the walls of our building. In addition to the staff here, there are several family members who join us on a regular basis to make a difference in the lives of our students. I would like to take a moment to highlight some of these special individuals who come into our building without seeking any accolades. They just want to help.

Linda McShea is the mom of Kim McShea, a second grade teacher. Linda is a retired Jr. High Family and Consumer Science Teacher. She comes into McShea’s classroom about once a week. Linda reads with the kids during read-to-self time; she runs copies or makes project books for the second grade team and helps students with their grammar or ELA practice book pages. She also does classroom read alouds, which is a favorite. Linda is very patient, caring and helpful in the classroom. The kids love having her here, and so does Kim!

Another family that pitches in on a regular basis is kindergarten teacher Shannon Toland’s. Toland has made her classroom a true family affair. Her dad, Patrick, is a regular friendly face around our building. He even dressed up as Buddy the Elf for Halloween! Shannon’s mom, Cathy, has also come in to help. And rounding out Toland’s family tree, her grandma, Arline Schleicher, has also come in.

Toland has her family help in centers, for special classroom events or any other area of support. Mr. Toland finishes up his day doing bus duty with Shannon in the long hallway, too!

Another special family member who made time in her busy schedule to help a student is Vicki Nurkiewicz. She is the mother of Rhonda Esposito, a second grade teacher. Rhonda had a student this year who came to us with very little English. She spoke almost exclusively in Polish. As you can imagine, this was an overwhelming experience for the student. Nurkiewicz is fluent in Polish and Rhonda asked her mom to come in and help. A few visits turned into a weekly routine. The ladies would read together to build up the student’s English proficiency and vocabulary.

Nurkiewicz also attended Parent/Teacher Conferences to help translate for Rhonda. The student has grown immensely and a lot of that is directly tied to Rhonda’s mom.

More family fun was had with Carlie Serritella’s dad, Bob Serritella. He came in to help in Carlie’s kindergarten classroom with gingerbread houses and apple centers.

Liese Hearth’s Art Fest is an annual family tradition. Her mom and stepdad, Rose and Pete Velantini, and her husband Billy Hearth, all come in the night of the event to help with popcorn, other refreshments and general moral support. They put in hours of help to make the Art Fest a success.

Gail Stocchero, first grade teacher, likes to have her son and daughter, Nick and Sally Stocchero, come in to meet her class each year. They help out with centers.

As I said at the beginning, Mark Delay School is truly a family. We work together, we play together and even disagree, at times, just like a real family. But every decision we make comes from a place of love, support and respect. We work together for the success of our students and sometimes call in reinforcements from our own lives. Thanks for all of your service and dedication!

Mary Anderson is an enrichment instructor at Mark DeLay School.