December 22, 2014

Elyria
Intermittent clouds
24°F
test

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.