Teacher retires after more than 30 years in Upper Darby

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Teacher retires after more than 30 years in Upper Darby. Katherine Scott reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on May 23, 2018. (WPVI)

In song, in prayer, in special serenades, Saint Laurence Parish Elementary School in Upper Darby celebrated Mrs. Denise Mckenzie. After teaching in Catholic schools for more than 30 years, Mrs. McKenzie is retiring.

Mrs. McKenzie was joined in her pew with her husband, five children, and some of her 13 grandchildren, walked down the aisle, taking their seats to help celebrate the woman they love so much.

Daughter Bernadette Kutufaris said, "To see her recognized, to see her celebrated, I think has a deep meaning for all of our siblings."

Her school loves her too.

Eighth-grader Kendi Long said, "Me and my family, we were struggling financially at one point, and she helped us through that a lot. And she gave me a dress to wear for the Christmas pageant which was really nice."

Sister Mary Anne Bolger, IHM- Principal said, "Years ago there was a commercial, and it was about Tastykake -all the good things wrapped up in one. She is St. Laurence's Tastykake."

Mrs. McKenzie connected with her students on a personal level.

She has long taught her students' sign language, her son, who is deaf, stood with the choir as they signed this hymn back to her. She followed along with her grandchildren nearby doing the same.

Mrs. McKenzie would also often recount how in 1992 her daughter was cured of a debilitating spine disease, attributed as the first miracle in the cause for Sainthood of Saint Leonie Aviat.

Eighth-grader Nina Cavalier said, "She tells us a lot about what happened, her daughter and it's amazing to hear that life story."

"I let the children know, pray-no matter what else is going on in your life keep close to God," said McKenzie.

Mrs. McKenzie has lots of plans for retirement- travel- spending time with her children and grandchildren, but this school will always hold a place in her heart.

"I do know every trick in the book because I did every trick in the book growing up. So they knew that, but I hope that I inspired them to be the best person they can be."
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