From 1980 to 2006, one thing remained constant for Rocky Run Middle School: teacher Bob DiFulgo.
With DiFulgo's retirement on Sept. 30, Rocky Run Middle School said goodbye to the last member of its original faculty.
Janell Finley, who has taught alongside DiFulgo since 1985, said: “ I would say he's an excellent teacher. He's relentless and always helping his students to be well organized and prepared for learning.”
DIFULGO, who has a doctorate in education and counseling, taught civics and American government during his 20 years at Rocky Run. The Vietnam War veteran initially split his time between seventh and eighth grade before moving to eighth grade. He also taught eighth grade honors classes toward the end of his career.
Rocky Run Middle School principal Dan Parris said he feels DiFulgo's retirement is “kind of like the end of an era,” at the school.
“He had a great relationship with his students,” Parris said. “They seemed to enjoy his class ... He brought a lot to the classroom from his personal experiences, not just from his military career but from other things as well.”
Parris said DiFulgo was one of the teachers that bucked trends, teaching at one school for the entirety of his career.
“It's very uncommon for a person to have a career that encompasses 26 years at the same school,” Parris said.
DiFulgo said the environment at Rocky Run created by the students and faculty was warm and caring.
“It was a wonderful place to work," said DiFulgo. "You had your ups and downs, but it's always been a place where you don't want to pack up and run out of there.”
DiFulgo pointed to the reception he received after his heart attack.
“Probably my warmest memory is the response that I got two years ago after my heart attack from my kids and the staff,” DiFulgo said. “Very caring. So that's probably my fondest memory. When I got back they had set up a real support system ... that helped me to decide whether I was going to come back an extra year, which I did.”
DiFulgo cites changes in demographics and in ideology during his career as two of the biggest changes.
“At the time (1980) we were going from the open classroom idea to the more closed, individual classrooms,” DiFulgo said. “They were also changing the idea of a junior high school to what they called an intermediate school ... They wanted to create an environment where [students] could grow.”
Parris credited DiFulgo with helping to nurture that environment and population.
“He had a way of helping every child achieve success,” Parris said. “Obviously through a career that spanned that much time he had a lot of strategies that helped kids be successful. I think he should be very proud of his career.”
NOW THAT his permanent teaching career is finished, DiFulgo said he will probably write his memoirs, including his experiences in Vietnam. When asked what he will miss the most about teaching, he doesn't hesitate.
“The interaction with the kids,” DiFulgo said. “You have to really love them to spend that much time in education. It's the kids that are the bottom line. They rejuvenate you; they keep you going. It's the kids really.”