De La Salle Collegiate science teacher Laura Rigby, selected as Teacher of the Year in 2015-2016 by her colleagues, is retiring at the end of the school year.
A full-time teacher of Biology since 2007, Rigby went to part-time this year - a decision driven in part by COVID-19’s impact on her.
“My husband Dennis also had COVID, and he lost a 58-year old brother to a brain aneurysm,” Rigby said. “We decided it’s time to retire, head back to the country, and travel around and see the country.”
Laura Rigby’s path to teaching had some side trips.
After high school, at Utica Stevenson, Rigby went to Wayne State University, earning a degree in chemistry, followed by graduation from Wayne’s School of Medicine in 1993.
But Rigby decided, after those years of school and preparation, that becoming a doctor wasn’t what she wanted to do after all.
She married her husband, Dennis, in 1997, and they built a house in Attica, east of Flint, and began raising their family.
When her sons were ready to start school, the Rigbys decided to move back to the metro area.
“I didn’t want my children riding a bus an hour each way,” Rigby said.
They moved to Macomb Township, and in 2004, Laura returned to school, at Oakland University, earning a Master’s in Teaching. Her mentor there encouraged her to apply at De La Salle.
“Very soon after beginning at DLS, I found that I never wanted to work anywhere else,” Rigby said. “The teachers and counselors here give 100% to students. I am always impressed by the way that we band together to support and provide each student exactly what he needs to be successful. I have also felt very fortunate to work with such caring parents, as well. We are like a big family, taking care of our kids together.”
Rigby taught the traditional Biology courses - College Prep, Honors, and Advanced Placement, but also developed the Anatomy and Physiology couse.
“Multiple parents requested an Anatomy and Physiology class, and I was asked to create the class,” Rigby said. “I created the class from the ground up, and gave it a clinical focus. I felt my experience and special insights would be helpful to the boys. I have found teaching the course to be incredibly rewarding. Landing here, and teaching this class, has felt like what I was meant to be doing.”
Rigby and her husband are currently building a house in Dryden, in Lapeer County.
“We’re heading back to the country where we started out in the 90s,” Rigby said. “We plan on traveling around, camping, and seeing the country.”
An animal lover - the Rigbys have two dogs - she plans to do some volunteer work with dogs, possibly with a dog rescue organization.
While excited about the future, Rigby is sad about leaving.
“I will miss interacting every day with students,” she said. “I always feel so proud and fulfilled when a student comes back to visit or sends me a note telling me that he has benefitted from the things I taught him.
“Commencements each year are bittersweet. It’s like becoming an empty nester on a yearly basis. You miss them but are so proud of them at the same time.
“I can’t think of any greater legacy than to have been a part of shaping the lives of young people.”