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Back at Gonzaga, but not quite 17 again

Mr. Paul Buckley (right) graduated in 1986 and began working for Gonzaga in 1998. He is currently the math department chair (Photo courtesy Mr. Paul Buckley)

Walking through the halls each day, you can witness the relationship of all Gonzaga students and the bond they all share. Often associating the Gonzaga brotherhood with the students in the classroom, many students share the same bond with some of the beloved teachers on Eye Street.

While the teachers we have are amazing in the classroom, not all of them had any plans of coming back and working with 14 to 18 year old students.

“I had no desire to be a teacher; I didn’t think I’d be back here as a paid employee,” said Mr. Brendan Hartnett, religion department chair and class of 1997.

Mr. Hartnett and Sr. Ariel Laguilles, modern languages department chair and class of 1996, both began their teaching careers through service. Sr. Laguilles applied for a Jesuit volunteer corps position in Central America for two years. Upon his acceptance, he was sent to Managua, Nicaragua to teach for two years.

Sr. Ariel Laguilles as a a freshman in 1993. He began working for Gonzaga in 2004 as a Spanish teacher. (Photo from Sr. Ariel Laguilles)

“I was like, ‘okay, never taught before, never thought about it ,but I’m open to it.’ I felt like I got accepted for some reason, and it was a competitive pool, so I accepted it because it’ll be a good challenge, but they’re calling me to teach,” Sr. Laguilles said.

After coming back to the United States, Sr. Lagulles was in contact with the current headmaster of the time and began working at the school in 2004.

Mr. Hartnett similarly began his teaching career through service. During the summers of his time in college, Mr. Hartnett helped lead and work on Gonzaga service projects each summer. Upon his graduation from college, Mr. Hartnett worked for the State Department for one year, and during that time he received a letter from the headmaster about the newly started Alumni Service Corps, which was sent to recent alums.

“I worked at the State Department as a bridge year to take a break from college and apply to law school. When the letter arrived, it took my mind and thought ‘this would be kind of cool’ and even though I took the LSAT and sent out applications, my heart was not sold on going to law school” Mr. Hartnett said.

When Mr. Hartnett interviewed for the ASC position, he was instead offered a full-time position at Gonzaga and became an assistant in the campus ministry office where he worked for seven years until switching to the classroom.

Like Mr. Hartnett and Sr. Laguilles, Mr. Paul Buckley, math department chair and class of 1986, also did not plan on being a teacher, but he was not led to the classroom through service.

“I wasn’t going to be a teacher at all. I was an actuary for an insurance company in Boston and that was not fun. I came to the revelation that I wanted to teach, and knowing that I wanted to teach, I had to get back to Gonzaga,” Mr. Buckley said.

Although for Mr. Buckley, it took three times before he was accepted as a teacher.

“Once I got here, it was like reliving high school; I’m doing math, theater, going to football and basketball games. I relive high school year after year,” Mr. Buckley said.

All three noted how after coming back to Gonzaga they had difficulty calling teachers they had by their first name; it was also difficult seeing how much the school had changed since their time on Eye Street.

“The area was not nearly as safe as it is now. We did not have nearly the development around. There was no Chicken Rico, Subway, nothing,” Mr. Buckley said.

Mr. Hartnett and Sr. Laguilles graduated ten years after Mr. Buckley did, but they too talked about how the school used to look back in the ‘90s.

“The ceiling tiles were falling apart and the paint was peeling and the heat was radiators, and now it’s a lot nicer,” Mr. Hartnett said.

Mr. Buckley graduated in the class of 1986 and currently teaches math. Sr. Laguilles graduated in the class of 1996 and teaches spanish. Mr. Hartnett graduated in the class of 1997 and teaches religion.

Gonzaga alums who are teachers include: Mr. Mike Howell, dean of academics and math teacher, Mark Howell computer science department chair and math teacher, Mr. Paul Hamm science teacher, Mr. Terry Kernan math teacher, Mr. Nick Pugliese social studies teacher, Mr. Joe Viola social studies teacher, Mr. Adrian Oryshkevych social studies department chair, Dr. Harry Rissetto religion teacher, Mr. William Pierce English department chair, Mr. Joe Sampugnaro English teacher, Mr. Andrew Wood fine arts teacher and Mr. Sammy Gerdano computer science teacher.

Mr. Brendan Hartnett at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. He worked in campus ministry for seven years before switching to the classroom where he works now as a religion teacher. (Photo courtesy of Gonzaga Flickr)
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