Normandy's Jerry DesForges makes a positive, lasting impression for students
June 10, 2019
by Natalie Chmura
Normandy High School
Jerry DesForges’ service to Normandy High School’s wrestling team was impressive this past year. However, his service and leadership in the school lead to him to win the PEA (Parma Education Association) Educator of the Year award in 2019.
DesForges has been a teacher at Normandy High School for the past seven years, and in 2019, he will begin his tenure as the school’s Athletic Director, replacing Don Sparks.
“It's just a huge honor and a feather in my cap that allows me to keep doing what I'm doing,” DesForged explained. “The (PEA) award gives recognition to us teachers, that it is worth it. We might not feel it sometimes, and it's nice to get that recognition.”
DesForges states that he takes a more personal approach to teaching, focusing on the connection and possible impact teachers have on a student’s life.
“Everyone has bad days, and knowing that, I don't hold grudges,” DesForges said. “Someone might be mad at me the day before, or I might be mad at someone, but the next day it's a new day. Just being there to listen, making connections, and being able to talk to the students helps.”
It is this approach that has won him the respect of students, parents, peers, and administrators in the district, like Normandy’s Deputy Principal, Yolanda Pettiegrew.
“He is a nice guy, he’s done a lot for kids,” Pettigrew added. “He works hand in hand with administration as well as with students who need additional support in the classroom. He also took the time to train the wrestlers to assure they grew throughout the season.”
During the wrestling season, DesForges helped the team honor their beloved student manager, Cade Merrick. For his dedication and support of the team, Merrick received a varsity letterman’s jacket at the end of the season.
“Cade’s been our team manager for two years now, comes to practice once or twice a week and helps do some managerial stuff at practice,” DesForges explained. “He comes to all of our home meets, and participates with the team and cheers us on. We got together and decided to give him a varsity letter jacket.”
The idea to give Merrick the varsity letter jacket was supported by the entire team.
“I sat down with Matt Grzybowski and Gaige McMullen and we bounced some ideas around,” DesForges continued to explain. “We decided that idea was what we were going to approach the team with. People paid what they could, and I had a steady stream for like a week or two of people bringing money in. So, we bought the jacket and presented it to him during his lunch period.”
As for the upcoming wrestling seasons and going into next year, DesForges is “excited to watch them go through their other sports and grow as individuals.”
Great job, Mr. DesForges!
PHOTO CAPTION: Normandy’s wrestling team presents junior Cade Merrick with a varsity letter jacket for his support and dedication to the team during the year. Besides being their biggest fan, Merrick also served as a student manager.