Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Grand Haven's student publication of community significance since 1927

The Bucs' Blade

Teacher Thomas Puleo retires after 37 years in the classroom

Taylor Pokorski
Teachers Mark Robertson and Thomas Puleo share just one laugh out of thousands. The two are going to miss one another as Puleo heads into his well deserved retirement.

Sitting down, long time teacher Thomas Puleo leans forward, a smile spreads across his lips. The carefree kind of smile reserved for surprise perfect grades, finding lost items, or in Puleo’s case, a close friend.

“Mr. Robertson,” Puleo answers. 

The question had been “What are you going to miss the most about teaching here?” 

Long time teacher Puleo threw in his hat and said it was time. After 37-and-a-half years of teaching at the old highschool, presently Lakeshore Middle School, and here at Grand Haven High School, Puleo is retiring under positive circumstances.

Puleo shakes his head and the smile returns.

“Well, the people I work with, really,” Puleo said, “The camaraderie of the people and the students of the different classes.”

There is no doubt about Puleos connection with students and staff, in fact he might have retired sooner if it hadn’t been for a promise he made three years ago, to the Class of 2024.

“I had them as sophomores and they kept telling me, ‘don’t cry, don’t retire before we graduate,’” Puleo said, “I told them I’ll wait and I’ll graduate with you guys.”

That’s exactly what he did, waiting with the graduating Class of 2024 and watching two years pass much quicker than expected. Teaching U.S. history, sociology, along with being department chair, there was a new addition to his teaching repertoire.

“This year they let me teach accounting,” Puleo said, “which was nice, it was like going back to my roots.”

Puleo first attended Muskegon Community College to study accounting.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Puleo said, “I went to college for accounting for three and a half years and then stopped going because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.” 

As Puleo left MCC it seemed that doors were closing, but little did he know, so many more were being opened just beyond his sight.

“I ended up working at a clothing store where I had a lot of employees working for me who were in high school,” Puleo said, “They would come in and ask me things about their homework and I was like, ‘I kind of like talking about this stuff.’ especially when they had social studies questions.” 

With the sudden inspiration and encouragement from employees Puleo set out to do social work with schools as a side gig. Things changed when he found Aquinas Colleges program that got him teaching certified as well as a masters degree.

“It was like, yes, this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” Puleo said, “This is how I fit.”

And that’s where he stayed, becoming another legend for graduating classes to tell, recounting the stories of Mr. Puleo, Poptart merchant, teacher and friend.

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