Retiring teacher, graduating son share experiences

Jacob Riefle
Contributing Writer

Photo provided by Terry Verstraete

History teacher Terry Verstraete will retire after 29 years at Webster Groves High School. His son, senior Garrett Verstraete, will join him in his departure, as he will be graduating by the year’s end.

Being able to accompany his son throughout high school has meant a lot for both of them.

“Both my kids have gone through this school, and I’ve done the same with both. I had both of them in three classes, and I got to enjoy the little things. I escorted Garrett to his class on the first day of his freshmen year. I will escort him to his last class of this senior year. I will walk out with him and be on the floor during the graduation ceremony,” Verstraete said.

“It’s been a great ride, and I can’t tell you how lucky I am to have had this experience. On my worst teaching day, I always had the best day when I got to see him on a random day during the week in the middle of the school day. It always puts everything in perspective,” Verstraete said.

Garrett had heard stories about his father as a teacher throughout middle school and high school.

“I couldn’t believe how many random people came to me and wanted to give me their opinion about my dad as a teacher. Good and bad. I just wanted my own identity,” Garrett said.

Eventually, things came around and Garrett started to appreciate having his parents around more.

“I always saw my dad at school, and we would talk when there was free time. By my junior year I started understanding who my dad is as a teacher. A lot of people recognized my last name and told me that they had my dad and class and that he did this or that. It was always positive,” Garrett said.

“Then senior year came, and I had him in both military history classes. A lot of my friends are in that class, and my dad has known them since they were six or seven…It’s a laid back environment, and it’s been fun. I’m glad I got to have both my parents work at the high school and help me get through the four years,” Garrett stated.

The two will celebrate the end of their respective high school journeys after the school year’s end with a trip to Australia.

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