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Mr. Bronson would be proud

Cheryl Palumbo Lebo

Cheryl Palumbo Lebo - Class of 1973

One January day during my senior year at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Father Reis pulled me into his office and asked, "So, Cheryl, are you going to go to college?"

As a member of Aquinas's first graduating class, I was used to being a part of a tight-knit community of kids, where teachers and staff knew lots about you. I had a strange feeling that Fr. Reis knew very well that financially, college might be a stretch - and that my parents were using any extra cent available to help my brother, Jim, a scholarship student at Kent State. As my senior religion teacher, I like to think Father saw some potential within me.

My answer, "absolutely!" led to the next question: "So, how do you think you will be able to pay for it?" Father Reis was in a position to give Walsh scholarships to two seniors interested in becoming a teacher. I was lucky enough to receive one of those. I honestly don't know if the dream of college would have materialized if it hadn't been for Father Reis and for Walsh. When I look back at the many gifts in my life, that gift in particular is pretty close to the top of the list.

So many memories stand out of my time at Walsh. My teaching classes were peppered with experienced and wonderful local teachers finalizing requirements for certification and adding an incredible dimension to classroom discussion and to the learning overall. Other memories come to mind; getting to know interesting folks from Ohio, and from around the country; the annual tug-of-war in the mud; being active on campus as a cheerleader and class officer. One memory in particular that makes me smile happened in Dr. Bronson's mathematics class. I was in class and watching Mr. Bronson take the time to write out a complex math problem that took up 3 full whiteboards (or was it chalkboards back then?) He turned to the class and looked directly at me. Calmly waiting for the question I knew was coming my way, I took a breath. "Ms. Palumbo," said Dr. Bronson, "How would you handle this equation?"

"That's easy, Mr. Bronson," I answered. "I'd erase it."

That was certainly not my finest moment, nor my finest grade. It's extremely ironic that my job with the Arizona Department of Education is to supervise the development and implementation of core academic standards (including mathematics) for the state of Arizona. I think Mr. Bronson would be proud.