MILLTOWN — When Rob Maegerle graduated from Saint Mark’s High School in 1987, he figured he was done making his way up that long driveway.
“I’m outta here!” he recalled thinking upon receiving his diploma.
Maegerle earned a degree in education from the University of Delaware, but while in college he had a change of heart.
“A friend and I decided we wanted to be police officers, and we started going through the process,” he said recently.
For a little over six years, Maegerle was a Wilmington police officer, something he said he enjoyed.
“There were good times and bad times, like any other job, but it was good,” he said. “I learned a lot. Made good friends and good connections. But when it came down to it, as far as a long-term career and everything, I think I needed something a little different for myself and my family.”
That opportunity came in 1999 when his alma mater had an opening for a physical education teacher. Despite Maegerle’s proclamation when he graduated, he had returned to Saint Mark’s to coach the swim team, but just before the turn of the century, he received a call from then-athletic director Tom Rosa asking if he would be interested in teaching.
He has worked at Saint Mark’s ever since, although he is now the dean of discipline, a position he added in 2007. Aside from a brief stretch when he was an assistant swim coach at Delaware, he also has been the head coach of the Spartans. There was an adjustment period needed when leaving law enforcement.
“I literally went from on the streets chasing people on a bicycle to three days later teaching gym. There was definitely a learning curve there,” he said.
Maegerle was nominated for The Dialog’s Teacher Feature by Max Hanling, one of four siblings who have attended Saint Mark’s. Hanling wrote that Maegerle made quite an impact in just a semester as his physical education teacher.
“He taught me so much more than would be expected,” Hanling wrote. “Mr. Maegerle has taken time to get to know me as a student and as an individual. He is the type of teacher than I am comfortable having conversations with ranging from the NFL game last night to what is going on in my own life on a given day. I am 100 percent confident that I would not be the student, athlete and person that I am today without his constant support.”
Maegerle said he knows the entire Hanling family, having coach the other three siblings, and that it feels good that someone thought enough of him to nominate him. After all, in his position, a lot of times it’s not good news if a student is in his office.
The best way to handle that kind of situation is to build relationships with the students and getting to know them.
“It’s a lot easier talking to kids, discussing things with them when you already have a good rapport with them. They’re more open to talk to you, more trusting,” he said.
“If they’re involved in an activity, whether it’s a sport or a play or whatever, it’s just knowing a little something about them and communicating. If they find that you’re interested in them, they tend to be more open to you.”
A member of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, Maegerle lives in Hockessin with his wife, Keely, daughter Lily and son Robbie. Lily is a sophomore at Saint Mark’s, and Robbie will be a freshman there next year. His daughter will have a driver’s license by the time school opens next year, so Maegerle might be “white-knuckling” it as a passenger to and from school.
His free time revolves around the activities of his children, he said. They enjoy the beach when they are not busy with summer swim leagues. During the academic year, they are familiar faces at Spartans football games and other activities. He still coaches the Spartans’ swimmers.
And despite his feelings when he was 18 years old, he’s glad he’s not “outta here.”
“I just love this place,” he said. “Like the sign says, it’s truly a home to me now.”