By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
Margie McGlynn-Haugh is going to have a tough time responding to all the congratulations she received for her 40th anniversary as a teacher.
A kindergarten teacher at St. Cecilia School in the city’s Fox Chase section since 1977, she received well over 700 cards and e-mails. Some of the former were from folks in high and low places: for example, Rich Gannon, an NFL star quarterback and Hall of Famer, and Andrew Kern, an Annapolis grad now on submarine duty.
McGlynn-Haugh was honored with a prayer service at St. Cecilia Church that family, friends and alumni attended on June 1. For her, one of the funniest things is meeting up with people she taught in fourth grade 40 years ago, and they realize she was just eight years older than some of them at the time.
Originally from St. Matthew Parish in Northeast Philadelphia, she graduated from Nazareth Academy and entered Holy Family College but quickly switched to the archdiocesan program where teachers could earn as they learned.
She was hired by St. Bridget School for the fourth grade, which was a typical assignment for new teachers, and continued working on earning her bachelor’s degree, which she completed in five years by attending evening and summer classes.
Teaching was the only thing she ever wanted to do, and when St. Cecilia became the first parish school in its area to start a kindergarten, she applied for it, and that’s where she has been teaching ever since.
“I love kindergarten and I love the children; they are wide-eyed, sweet, receptive and kind,” she said. “They have innocence and an enthusiasm to learn.”
Meanwhile in 1984 she married Bill Haugh, a piping designer for an engineering firm. The wedding naturally was at St. Cecilia’s, with her entire class attending. Since then they have relocated to Marlton, N.J., and St. Mary of the Lakes Parish in Medford, where they raised their daughter, Courtney, now 20, who is following her mother’s footsteps into education.
McGlynn-Haugh, a member of the Curriculum Committee for Early Childhood Education for the archdiocesan Office for Catholic Education, has seen changes in her field over the decades.
“It is really much more advanced today, and more is expected from the children,” she said. When she started teaching, kindergarten was only a half day, with different children in the morning and afternoon; now it is a full day.
For the most part children she sees are coming from day care or pre-school, and they have already learned the fundamentals she would have taught in the 1970s. “Now we have them reading and writing in their journals, but we integrate play with the academics,” she said.
Although today’s children are undoubtedly more academically prepared when they reach kindergarten, some are not as prepared spiritually.
“Some are learning about God for the first time,” she said. “Sometimes they ignite their parents’ faith again.”
When McGlynn-Haugh started at St. Cecilia’s, the movement toward lay faculty was already under way, and at the time, she estimates, it was about half Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and half lay teachers.
Now the majority is lay teachers, but she believes both interact very well, and both can be effective. For her part she has nothing but admiration for the sisters, lay teachers and parents she has encountered over the years.
Especially since McGlynn-Haugh lives in New Jersey, she thought about pursuing a more lucrative public school teaching job, but decided against it.
“St. Cecilia is my home, I feel as young as ever and have no plans to retire,” she said.
Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.