Special to the Journal
Revere Schools Supt. Dr. Dianne Kelly praised all teachers on the important occasion of World Teachers’ Day, which has been held annually on Oct. 5 since 1994.
Following are Dr. Kelly’s remarks:
“George Bernard Shaw said ‘To me the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching.’ I think that has never been truer than today. Teaching has always been an incredible challenge; it is a calling far more than a profession. Great teachers carry the burdens of every child in their classrooms which is always exhausting. As we find ourselves today in the middle of two crises – racial unrest across our country and the COVID pandemic – those weights are multiplied at least ten fold. Teachers are uniquely positioned to help kids see themselves as worthy on all counts, to see themselves enjoying future success, and to inspire our youth to exercise their leadership rather than waiting for permission to do so. Teachers give kids hope that there can be some normalcy within and beyond this chaos. Beyond the mathematics, literacy, music, and other content, many teachers inspire the hope and self-confidence that are needed to thrive. For this, they should be celebrated!”
School Committee member Anthony D’Ambrosio added, “I commend Revere teachers for inspiring the curiosity and growth of future generations.”
Carol Tye had the following to add: Our democracy depends on teachers. From our earliest history, they have defined what an American should be: educated, involved, caring, – patriotic in every sense of the word. Teachers are the keepers of our history, our lore, and our values. They have often labored at this task with too little recognition and too little remuneration. But the best of them know that there can be no reward greater than making the difference in the life of a child.
In honor of all teachers and in memory of one of Revere’s finest, the Journal has compiled memories and notes of the late Fran Rega, who was active in the Revere school system for decades.
Carol Tye, Fran’s colleague, School Comm.:
Fran Rega was the best of the best. She made a difference not only in the lives of the children she taught, but in the lives of everyone she knew. She was a full participant in every aspect of her life.
Fran was a member of my sophomore honors English class. Even then I knew that she would be an excellent teacher herself. She easily mastered the vocabulary and grammar. For example, she knew not only that a comma must be placed after an introductory adverb clause, but why the group of words was a clause used as an adverb.
As for the literature, she could understand the moral quandary faced by Shakespeare’s Brutus as the ancient Roman pondered whether or not to kill Julius Caesar. She could just as easily identify with the angst of teenager Holden Caulfield as he wanted to be “the catcher in the rye.” She was clearly a scholar with a future in academia.
Fran was an exemplary teacher. Her high standards were matched by her determination to guide each student toward meeting them. She never gave up on a kid. She herself was a lifelong learner, and she wanted her students to experience that same joy of discovery.
Actually, Fran never gave up on anyone. She was generous with her talent, time, and resources, wherever and however they were needed. She made a difference in the world. She was truly an exemplar of “a life well-lived.”
If you wish to donate to the scholarship set up in Fran Rega’s name, please send checks made out to Revere High School, memo line – Fran Rega Scholarship
Send to RHS, attn: Rose Gordinas
101 School Street
Revere, MA, 02151
Remembering RPS Teacher Fran Rega
Danielle Crowe, Fran’s Goddaughter:
What can one say about a woman who was loved and cared for by so many? No matter where we went someone was bound to know who she was. If I met anyone who was from Revere I always asked if they knew her, and they usually did. This is understandable when you are not just an extraordinary person but were also an amazing educator who touched and affected so many lives. As you know, Franny never had any children but she did have godchildren. I was fortunate enough to be her godchild. I saw being her Godchild as a privilege and being given Frances as my middle name as an honor and something to up hold to.
You never really think of what it means to be someone’s godchild where you are young. I started realized as I was getting older what an amazing and incredible Godmother I had. Who loved me unconditionally and would do anything for me. I gave her Birthday and Christmas gift sure but I started to make sure to send her a card on Mother’s Day. I wanted her to know how important she was on a day so special to Mother’s, even Godmothers.
I made sure to tell Franny how she had been an amazing, caring and loving godmother always to me. And how I couldn’t have asked to be blessed with a better godmother than her. I told her that she showed me what it means to be a godparent. Her guidance, wisdom and unconditional love is what helps me to continue to be a great godparent to my goddaughter. I could continue on with all the amazing memories that I have of and with Franny, like going to see the Nutcracker when I was a kid. But there always has to be a time when we must not say goodbye but until next time. So I will leave you with this. As I wrote and rewrote this, I thought to myself, I’m sure Franny could take a red pen and markup my many grammatical and punctuation errors. But knowing my Godmother, she would think it was perfect because it was one last gift from me to her.
Michele Vegelante, Fran’s childhood friend, retired RPS teacher:
Frances and I had been friends for 65 years. Neither of us had a sister, so we each found one. I have always considered myself to have been very fortunate to have had the influence of Frances and her parents in my life. They all provided valuable lessons in how to live.
Frances always worried about being selfish. Because she was an only child, she often would ask if she was thinking only of herself. I have truly never known such an unselfish, generous person. Marie and Leo taught her to be generous with her time, with gifts, and to always be aware of how to help someone when it was needed.
Fran spent a great deal of time planning lessons and correcting student work. Her corrections were not only to give a grade, but to let students know what was missing in their answers and how a better answer could have been written. Her comments were often longer than the answer she was fixing up. Sometimes she would wonder if her comments were read, but that was the only way she could feel good about doing her job.
Frances and her parents were hard workers. While Fran was recovering at home from various chemo and radiation treatments there was no sitting around. People would complain about being bored during pandemic shutdowns and I would often ask her, “Do we spend any time sitting around with nothing to do? When do we sit here and say what do we do now?” That never happened. We were cooking or doing laundry or hanging out clothes (She seemed to have a sense that putting clothes in the dryer was not to be allowed).
She was the best friend that anyone could have hoped for. She and her parents always included me in extended family gatherings; I felt very much at home with both families. Her friends were my friends. Fran and I liked to do so many of the same things: shopping for clothes, going to BC games, going out to eat (a lot!). We were among the first in restaurants as soon as covid restrictions were lifted. I am very grateful that she had a chance to do one of her favorite things.
I thought about closing with the line from Hamlet about flights of angels singing thee to thy rest, but she never liked Hamlet (He was way too whiny for her.) Instead I say good-bye my friend. Until we meet again.
Toby Cassidy, Fran’s colleague, RPS teacher:
I first met Fran Rega when she joined the Abraham Lincoln School Junior High faculty in the mid 70’s. I had taught United States History at the Lincoln since 1960. We discovered that we had a few things in common. We both had lived in Revere all our lives, and still did. We also had both graduated from Boston College with two degrees. Fran was very proud not only of her BC education, but also of her 12 years in the Revere Public Schools. An English major at BC, she said she was forever grateful that she had been so well prepared for her future studies by George Doucet and Carol Tye, her English teachers at RHS.
Fran was appreciative of the Jesuit Liberal Arts education she had received at BC. As an English teacher at both middle and high school levels, she experienced great joy in introducing her students to the magnificent world of English and American literature. Over the last 50 years many students have benefited from being a member of Fran’s class. Mayor Brian Arigo was one of them. He showed his high regard for her by appointing her to the Board of the Revere Housing Authority.
Fran was a great sports enthusiast. When my brother met Fran at one of the BC games, he said, “Boy, she knows more about sports than any man I know.” She was a life-long New York Yankees fan. She was the owner of BC football and baseball season tickets for over 40 years. I joined Fran and her childhood friend Michele Vegelante as a fellow owner during the Doug Flutie era. On New Year’s Day 1985, the three of us attended the Cotton Bowl game in Dallas, Texas. It was the final game of Flutie’s splendid college career.
In 1981 my wife Anita suffered a severe stroke. She was only 46 and she spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Every year we had hosted at our home a Christmas gathering of 50-60 fellow teachers and friends. After Anita’s life-altering stroke, I was able to carry on this Cassidy tradition that Anita loved so much only because of the selfless service of Fran, Michele, and Linda Pennachio. Their hard work made it possible for Anita and me to enjoy the celebration of friendship. They would not leave until every Waterford glass and every piece of Lenox china was washed, dried, and put away.
The Boston College motto is EVER TO EXCEL. Fran Rega was the personification of this lifetime philosophy. Fran excelled in scholarship, teaching, kindness, and friendship. How fortunate for me that I had such a remarkable friend to share my time on this earth!
James Bouhuys, M.Ed.; Assistant Principal, SBA
It goes without saying that Fran Rega was an amazing educator with a kind heart. Being a product of the Revere Public Schools system, I had the privilege to be Ms. Rega’s student in both my Sophomore Year and again in my Senior Year. Throughout my time in her classes, I developed my love for vocabulary, proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. When I was hired by Revere Public Schools in January 2018, Ms. Rega was the FIRST person to reach out to me congratulating me on my position. She told me, “I am always proud when when one of my students chooses the field of education and I know that you will do an outstanding job” and those words will stay with me forever.
Althea Terenzi, Fran’s colleague, RPS teacher:
Fran was such a great support for me in so many ways. She covered both of my maternity leaves, and of course I knew my students were good hands. She would update me periodically so I could still feel connected to my classroom. Both times when I returned, my students knew Macbeth inside and out and were appreciative of Ms. Rega. Even very early on in my career, Fran treated me as an equal despite her years of experience and skill. I was pretty sure I knew nothing about anything when it came to teaching, but Fran was always genuinely curious about what I was working on, how I and my students were doing, and she had nothing but praise and encouragement for me. She knew my two children’s names and ages and asked after them whenever I saw her. After teaching for as many years as Fran did, I would not blame her for losing enthusiasm, but she never did. Fran’s passion for teaching English, for being with students, and for supporting her colleagues never waned. She will always be a role model for me.
Matt Costa, Fran’s Colleague, Director of Math:
Fran was an incredibly kind person, a wonderful educator, and an amazing colleague. I was always humbled and inspired by Fran’s thoughtfulness and positive way of being. Fran’s approach to the craft of teaching, her high expectations for herself and her students, as well as her kind and supportive nature perfectly embodied what a teacher should be. I am grateful to have had Fran’s support as a colleague, mentor, and friend.
Sara Colum, Fran’s colleague, RPS teacher:
In the past ten years, Fran was a faithful and effective guest judge for Revere High School’s annual Poetry Out Loud competition. She absolutely loved coming in to hear the students perform and she was always fair and warm. Fran was also a Myopoly judge at RHS for many years, and brought her sharp questions and helpful feedback to the students on those spring days, too. The students loved to be seated at her table on those days and she will be dearly missed.
Joanne Willett, Principal, SBA:
Fran was my teacher, my mentor, my colleague, and my friend.
She taught me ELA from 1983 – 1985 at the Abraham Lincoln School, where she instilled in me a passion for teaching and a love for Boston College. (It was the Doug Flutie years!) I would follow in her footsteps and become an Eagle! I fondly remember her teaching us how to outline our notes, a skill that served me well all through high school and college: if there is an A, there must be a B. If there is a 1, there must be a 2. She would share her notebooks that she kept filled with pages of her beautiful, distinctive handwriting from her college days that she had tucked away in her closet. I still have my notebooks from her class.
Richie Galluci, Assistant Superintendent:
I attached a picture of an essay from her class, as she had a way of folding the paper when handing it back to students, allowing her to spotlight her feedback about the overall performance on the writing piece before they dug in to the technical aspects.
Of course, once the student unfolded the essay, they found additional feedback, corrections, and recommendations within the body of the piece. Her feedback (and what I remember most about her class and overall approach to education) always conveyed unbelievably high expectations that she held dear for each and every one of her students. Her expectations were matched only by a genuine level of care that permeated her classroom and served as the foundation for the rigor that she implemented on a daily basis. As I read the feedback on this essay, I am amazed at the lasting power of her words. Small recommendations that she made for the writing process—“Be selective about word choice, don’t repeat the same word in one sentence…”—have stayed with me to this day.
Her recommendations served as a staple in my own ELA classroom years later, serving yet another generation of RPS students. In addition, her work influenced all of my own work in other occupations—writing for the Boston Herald Sports department, drafting correspondence as a Principal, and my newfound writing responsibilities as an Assistant Superintendent of Schools. In fact, as I wrote this email, I used this recommendation on at least a few of the sentences above.
Ms. Rega was ahead of her time in terms of engaging her students, as we often had to write about literature and non-fiction on a regular basis. However, this particular essay asked us to write about a personal hero—“Bo Jackson,” in my case. She had an incredible way of sprinkling in items of interest to complement our work with classic literature, achieving a level of engagement that was unmatched.
Ms. Rega was an amazing educator and person, one who will live on forever in the influence that she had with all of her students and beyond.
Nancy Barile, Fran’s colleague, RPS teacher:
The world—and especially the Revere community—just lost one of the best human beings I know. I learned about Fran Rega long before I became a teacher. Bridget Burpee Collins frequently talked about her amazing English teacher Ms. Rega. From the stories Bridget told me, I knew when I became an English teacher, I wanted to be like Fran. And when I finally met Fran, I could see why Bridget loved her so much. Fran was smart, funny, hardworking, and insightful. She was an incredible colleague, always ready to share her insight and expertise—and I went to that well often. Fran loved teaching and English Language Arts. She spoke up when she thought our department wasn’t headed in the right direction. She stuck up for her colleagues, including me. She listened to me when I was upset. When I wanted someone to edit my book for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, I went right to Fran. She, of course, would accept no fee for her time, and she did an outstanding job, despite the fact that she was probably horrified by my punk rock stories. Fran loved sports, especially BC sports. When Fran retired, she came back to work as a sub. I LOVED when she subbed my classes because I knew my students would be well taken care of, but I also knew that the dogs who came to my window would be, too. You can see that in her email below. One of the most striking characteristics about Fran was that she absolutely loved dogs. Every summer Flippy and I would see her at the beach walking, first Simon and later Bentley. She always asked about Flippy. It gives me great comfort to know that Fran and Simon will now be reunited. Fran, I will love and miss you forever. Thank you being a such an amazing human being, colleague, and friend.
Christina Porter, Director of Humanities:
It would be impossible to enumerate all the lives that Fran Rega impacted during her career as an English teacher. I had the unique privilege of being her student, her colleague, and then her supervisor. In each role, she taught me something new. I can close my eyes and remember being in her eighth grade classroom at the Beachmont School. I remember her beautiful handwriting and her famous “notes on the board” for Lord of the Flies, The Old Man and The Sea and Romeo and Juliet. She was the ideal English teacher: brilliant, passionate, prepared and professional. I wanted so badly to impress her that I memorizedThe Raven, a move my friends still remind me of to this day. When I became an English teacher, she was the first person I wanted to model my style after. Her loss is immense but the impression she made is eternal.
Lisa Mirasolo, Fran’s colleague; RPS teacher:
Although Fran and I grew up in Revere, I never knew her until about 16 years ago when I started teaching at Revere High School. Now, I had been around the block a few times as far as teaching goes, but this would my first experience in a public school. It was Fran who took me under her wing, and she taught me all the ropes. Soon, we weren’t just talking about school anymore; we compared notes on caring for our elderly parents, our favorite baseball and football teams, and life in general. Eventually, we moved our meetings outside of the school to restaurants and our favorite Barnes and Noble. Before Fran retired, she said to me that she wanted me to have her classroom, Room 105. I didn’t think anything of it, but she told me it was the best room in the building: it was spacious with functioning windows and shades, and a coat rack. Low and behold, on her last day at Revere High School, she came into my room and said it was done. I was now the proud “owner of prime real estate”, Room 105. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Fran, and all that she has done for me. She was my colleague and friend, and she truly was the original GOAT: GREATEST OF ALL TEACHERS!