August 29, 2014

Elyria
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Former students Skype call retired sixth-grade teacher

Connie Todd, of Norwalk, Lila Jackson, of Elyria, Tara Canada, of Oberlin, and Lysa Woodyard-Milks, of Brownhelm, react when their sixth-grade teacher, Fred Visci, from 40 years ago, answered a phone call they made over Skype to surprise him. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Connie Todd, of Norwalk, Lila Jackson, of Elyria, Tara Canada, of Oberlin, and Lysa Woodyard-Milks, of Brownhelm, react when their sixth-grade teacher, Fred Visci, from 40 years ago, answered a phone call they made over Skype to surprise him. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA — There are some one-of-a-kind teachers, whose teaching goes beyond the classroom, inspiring the lives that they touch. For six former Cascade Elementary students, Fred Visci was that teacher.

Forty years after they left Visci’s sixth-grade class, the group couldn’t help but remember their favorite teacher and wonder what happened to him after his retirement in 2004.

So Darren Conley, a former Elyria High School principal and student of Visci’s, along with Tara (Hicks) Canada, led the charge to locate Visci, who is now living in Florida.

After speaking with Visci’s wife, Sally, the two set up a Skype phone call for him Saturday. The call was a secret to Visci, Canada said.

“(Sally’s) so excited. She has been fretting over every little detail. It’s so cute,” Canada said.

Canada, who lives in Oberlin, said Visci was an inspiration to his students.

“He was literally made to be a teacher,” she said, smiling.

Conley said Visci was the reason he decided to go into teaching, later becoming a principal at Elyria High School.

The informal “reunion” of his sixth-grade students began after he posted a class picture of the group on Facebook, he said. Since then, several classmates had expressed interest in getting together to talk to their former teacher, whom many hadn’t seen in 40 years.

“I haven’t seen these people since, for 25 years, probably,” Conley said.

The group, including classmates Lila Jackson, Edgar Riley, Lysa Woodyard-Milks and Connie (Breast) Todd, spent time catching up with each other at the Lorain County Educational Service Center. They wondered if their beloved teacher would recognize them.

But Visci remembered them all, after some guessing. He shared stories with the group from their time at the elementary school.

“Those were good days. Those were really good days,” he said during the phone call.

Woodyard, who said she never finished high school but later earned her GED, told Visci that she wished she had more teachers like him.

“I have thought about you all through the years,” she said. “If I would have had a teacher like you, I would have stayed in school.”

Visci, who said he was thrilled to hear from the group, worked to plan another reunion with them during a trip to Ohio in August. He thanked his class for reaching out to him.

“This makes my heart happy,” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

  • Tara Canada

    Thank you for caring to cover our call to Mr. Visci. It was an amazing and incredible feeling to talk to him and thank him for all that he did for his students. Mr. Visci touched many lives in a very positive way. It was a gift to have him as a teacher! I loved seeing classmates that I have not seen in many years. The planning has begun for a picnic at Cascade Park in August.

  • Lysa Milks

    Thank you Darren and Tara for setting it up, it was great to see Mr Visci again and be able to thank him….I enjoyed see all of you and catching up. And by the way I went back to school after 35 years and I did get a GED last December.

  • Bill

    I left after the 5th grade and didn’t have the opportunity to have him. Sounds like a great guy.

  • 2111

    I think I was in his class for half of the school year the class before these folks. That was a long time ago & I can’t seem to remember it all too well.