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Moynahan names Longmeadow teacher as difference maker

May 15, 2014 |

By G. Michael Dobbs

ENFIELD, Conn. – Roger Leblanc said his email has been bursting with messages from former students because of what one of them posted on the web about the retired Longmeadow High School (LHS) teacher.

Actress Bridget Moynahan wrote a blog for Teacher Appreciation Week on the website for Jumpstart – a literacy program – and named Leblanc as a teacher who made a difference.

Leblanc told Reminder Publications the essay about him was “really nice” and he noted that oftentimes teachers are not aware that what they did made a positive difference in a student’s life.

Moynihan, a 1989 LHS graduate, has had a busy career as an actress and is currently one of the stars of the CBS series “Blue Bloods.”

Leblanc remembered her fondly and said, “She was a very, very special student in so many ways.”

He taught at LHS for 40 years before retiring in 2003. He is now coordinating as a volunteer several social service programs in the Thompsonville section of Enfield, Conn. His activities include helping out with a meal program as well as one that gives eligible students backpacks loaded with necessary school supplies.

“We’re doing a lot of things to help families,” he said. The goal of the volunteer program is to help families navigate through the social system bureaucracy and receive the assistance they need to be self-sufficient.

Leblanc said he and many other teachers understand they may not receive from students as the students move on to the next class and the next grade. He has followed some of his students through their careers and frequently “sees a name that brought back memories.”

He said that although he loved teaching, retiring when he did was the right time as there was more and more emphasis on “teaching to the test” and providing solutions to “solve society’s ills.”

The following is what Moynahan wrote on www.jstart.org on May 6:

“Teachers. They are so important. When I look back at some of my favorite teachers, I can’t help but feel lucky to have had so many wonderful people in my life that are passionate about education and caring for others.   

“I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, Longmeadow, where I went to school until I was 18 years old. Although there are many teachers that stand out in my mind, I will never forget my junior year English teacher, Mr. Leblanc. Mr. Leblanc stood in the hallway every morning and greeted every student as they walked into school. He stood calmly and peacefully with his hands clasped behind his back and a smile on his face, wearing slacks and a white collared short-sleeved shirt. While I’m sure that he had other shirts, this is how I distinctly remember him. One thing that never changed about his wardrobe was a button that he wore every single day. The button read, “I CARE.”

“Mr. Leblanc was and is one of the most thoughtful people that I have ever met. He was a passionate teacher who not only cared about homework and test scores; he cared about his students. I will never forget the time that he took me out of my typing class (yes, we had typing class, and yes this makes me feel old!) because he noticed that I wasn’t acting like myself and thought something might be wrong. He was right. I was thankful to be seen that day and I was thankful to be heard. He helped me when I was down and steered me back in the right direction. I am forever grateful for that day in class, and for teachers like Mr. Leblanc that look past the textbooks and curricula, and into the eyes of their students.

“Mr. Leblanc taught for 40 years. I have not spoken to or seen him since I graduated from Longmeadow High School in 1989. I recently read, to no surprise, that he is volunteering 30 hours a week in a nearby town. Why? Because he cares. Mr. Leblanc, if you’re out there and somehow find yourself reading this blog, thank you for noticing, thank you for listening, and thank you for believing.

“All across the world, teachers are changing the way children think, giving young adults a chance, and providing hope for a better tomorrow. I am so appreciative of all the amazing teachers that I’ve had, and still have in my life, as I can continue to grow and learn new things every day. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to Mr. Leblanc and to all teachers out there making a difference.”

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