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A reunion 35 years in the making

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Dialog reporter

When Stan Arasim decided to return to Catholic education, he called a former student now leading St. Edmond’s Academy

 

BRANDYWINE HUNDRED — Stan Arasim was on the verge of finishing 30 years as a teacher in the Brandywine School District last year, ready to step away from the district but not the classroom. So he contacted Tricia Scott, the principal at St. Edmond’s Academy, to see if she had any interest in bringing him aboard.

It was not a random call. The two first met in the fall of 1981, when Arasim was a rookie eighth-grade teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Wilmington, and Tricia Gioffre was one of his students. The pair forged a strong bond that year, and Arasim had kept tabs on Scott over the years through his barber and her cousin, Jim Gioffre. At St. Edmond’s, he would be able to continue his passion while collecting his full public-school pension.

Scott knew immediately she wanted her former teacher to work for her. Fortunately for both sides, in the weeks that followed their initial meeting, a vacancy opened in Arasim’s subject areas, math and science. Scott was thrilled.

“I know I wanted him back,” she said last week at the school. “He’s one of my favorites. He also was my swim coach from back in the day. So we have a long history together.”

“You didn’t have to do a lot of rearranging,” Arasim told her.

0120.reunion“No, it was a perfect situation,” she replied.

“It was easy for me,” Scott continued. “I knew his character. I knew what kind of teacher he was. I knew he still wanted to teach, which is commendable. I felt the boys would benefit from him. That was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.

“He’s very sweet and thoughtful, too.”

Arasim, 60, worked with several former students over the years. He has been working with young people for decades not only as a teacher but as a swimming coach at the club and high school levels — Scott was one of his athletes as a child at Arden Swim Club. But going to work for one took some getting used to for both of them, he admitted.

That went down to the simplest thing: what they should call each other. Scott was calling him “Mr. Arasim.” He said perhaps he should have called her “Dr. Scott.”

“We both had to adjust to this, and now we’re at the point where she can say, ‘You’re causing me problems,’ but I think everything’s good. It’s a little different, but it’s fun, too, because I’m so proud of her,” Arasim said.

“You think, what do you do with kids that you have when they’re little? And you see some of them grow up and you’re like, ‘Well, you know, I guess I didn’t do that good of a job.’ But it’s nice to see them succeed. You never expect them to become your boss.”

One of the more awkward things for Scott, 48, was having to do classroom observations and written evaluations on one of her favorite former teachers. She did an informal observation early in the year. It was difficult “because I had to look through a different lens, and that’s easier said than done.”

She said she had mostly religious sisters as teachers at IHM, so to have a young, energetic lay teacher inspired her. Arasim was always out at recess with the kids, and he regularly stayed after school if students needed help. He still does that, and she knows the boys at St. Edmond’s are getting the same benefits from Arasim’s talents that she did.

“All you had to do was look at the boys and then you’re like, ‘Now, I know why I remember him so fondly as a teacher.’ He’s laughing with them, and he’s teaching them mathematics. And that’s what I remember.”

Arasim has the added advantage of 35 years in the classroom, and he has introduced some things from public school to St. Edmond’s. He is not biding his time until he retires completely.

“We’re stepping up the whole program. We’ve had meetings with the high schools to see what do we need to do to get our kids in the best classes in high school. Things are rolling right now,” he said.

He also has encouraged his public school colleagues to consider moving into Catholic schools if they are looking for a change.

“I don’t have to fight. I don’t have to worry,” he said. “I go in, I’m happy. The kids are great. The parents are great. This is what education should be like, what’s going on here. It’s what it should be like everywhere. And what’s a shame is it’s not.”