Honoring our 2021 Retirees: Mrs. Lori Cresci


Ruisong Lan

After fifteen years of teaching, English teacher Ms. Lori Cresci is saying goodbye. After teaching at a different district for two years, she taught at South High for thirteen years. During this time, she taught a variety of English courses and also helped to run the school newspaper, The Southerner.     

Although fifteen years may sound early to be retiring, teaching is actually Ms. Cresci’s second career. Prior to teaching, Ms. Cresci worked in the business world as a marketing and sales promotion writer. However, after many years in this profession, Ms. Cresci felt she wanted to do something more. “I shifted my attention to teaching because it appealed to me as something worthwhile to do,”  she said.  “I had my own children at that point, and I watched as they became interested in the world of literature. I realized that I wanted to help that happen for other children besides my own.”

Over the years, teaching has opened up Ms. Cresci’s world in many ways. She has worked with students who come from different backgrounds and tried to reach students with whatever they need.  When asked what qualities a good teacher needs, she said, “To be a good teacher, you have to have a lot of empathy. You have to understand how things feel from a student’s perspective.”

The best part of teaching for Ms. Cresci has always been the “lightbulb” moments in the classroom, when students suddenly have a breakthrough. “I once had a student who was playing Juliet in a local production,” said Ms. Cresci. “She came to me because there was a speech that she didn’t understand. After I worked with her and helped her understand her dialogue, her jaw dropped and she said, ‘Oh, but that’s beautiful!’” 

Though Ms. Cresci has cherished her time at Great Neck South High School, she is ready for what lies ahead. She hopes to do many of the things she never had the time for while teaching. From gardening to volunteer work, Mrs. Cresci definitely plans on staying busy. “When the world opens up again, my husband and I plan on doing a lot of traveling,” said Ms. Cresci. “I want to go on a safari, I want to go to New Zealand, I want to go to the Galapagos. There are so many places that I haven’t had the chance to see, and now’s the time.” 

Before she retires, Ms. Cresci offers advice from a poem by Walt Whitman to her students. It has been her tradition to share this poem with her classes on the last day of school every year. The poem says in part:   “This is what you shall do: Love the earth and the sun and the animals….have patience towards the people….re-examine all you have been told…. And dismiss whatever insults your own soul.”