Park Manor teacher says his goodbye

Park Manor teacher Ken Lubert with his retirement gift, “Duckie” the duck-shaped watering can. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

Elmira’s Park Manor Senior Public School got to say a fond farewell and “see you later” to long-time teacher, coach and mentor Ken Lubert, who retired on Monday. Teaching since 1987, with the majority of that time spent at the Elmira school, Mr. Lubert, as he was known to the kids, the immense impact on the students lives, especially when it came to sports.

Lubert was a gym teacher, and in between his teaching had helped coach a number of the school’s sports teams. But when the students, one after the other after the next, talked about him, what they enjoyed the most was his particular brand of “dad jokes,” his tendency to burst loudly into random singing and his sheer positivity.

It was a surprisingly joyous event despite the sadness, as students on the athletic council that Lubert started met every person entering into the gymnasium on Monday with a row of high-fives and cheering.

A video was played of interviews with dozens of students, all of whom had been affected by Lubert in some way, as well as messages from former colleagues of his, wishing him the best in his retirement.

When the bell rang and the students started filling out, they again got cheering and high-fives on their exit, but this time Lubert was on the other end, to give each and every one got a strong hug and, if warranted, a hard clap on the back as they headed for the school bus.

“He’s just a big part of our school,” said student Tyler Brezynskie. “And I know I’ve looked up to him forever, like ever since I started coming here.” He added: “And ever since I heard the stories of him from my brother I’d just always wanted to meet him, and when I met him … he’s just a great guy.”

“He’s always smiling,” observed student Brydon Dickieson. “Like I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen him not smiling. And he’s positive and he’s so great to be around.” She said that she would miss him, but added that Lubert lived right on her street, so she would still be seeing him.

As a parting gift from the school, Lubert was given the one thing he’d apparently wanted so much: “Duckie” the duck shaped watering can. Inside can were messages from all the students at the school.

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