Final Chapter in the Longazel’s 35-year Career Comes to a Conclusion
By Alyssa Lamp and Casey Westfall
Dennis Longazel and Margaret Longazel have been teachers in the Palm Beach County School District for 35 years.
They both moved to South Florida in the 1970s and met on their first day of teaching at Boca Raton Community Middle School.
A year later they were married and after 35 years of teaching, they are set to retire June 2, 2016.
They met as “newly hired” faculty members in August 1981 at Boca Raton Middle School.
“My husband opened the door for me at Boca Middle the first day of school (August 1981),” Mrs. Longazel says. “He is a gentleman, highly intelligent and wonderful with children.”
It was a daily adventure working side by side for the two. “Each of us had different stories to share about our school day,” Mr. Longazel says. “I think we represented a powerful symbol as role models for our students and the community that a married couple could successfully work together and raise a family [with four children] as public school educators.”
Mr. Longazel still works as a Social Studies teacher at the school he started at, Boca Middle.
The principal at Boca Raton Middle School, Peter Slack, says, “I have only worked with Mr. Longazel for the past 5 years but find him to be a dedicated and committed teacher and a very nice kind hearted man.”
Mr. Longazel was a Walt Disney Educator Award Nominee in 2000, a Dwyer Award Nominee in 1988, ‘95, and 2005. He won employee of the month in 2008 and was D.A.R.E. educator of the year in Palm Beach County in 1996.
Mrs. Longazel now works at Loggers Run Middle School, in West Boca, as a sixth-grade math teacher.
Margaret Longazel has achieved numerous accolades in her 35-year educational career in the Palm Beach County School District.
Twice she was awarded the Palm Beach County Math-Teacher-Of-The-Year Award. She was a finalist for the William T. Dwyer Award (Middle School Division) and the Macy’s Teacher-of-the-Year Award Winner for Boca Raton Middle School twice.
Margaret received the Disney Teacher-of-the-Year Award once, and she also received a Recognition Award from St. Jude Children’s Hospital for Outstanding Teacher/Humanitarian. This year, a week ago, she was awarded the Boca Raton Rotary Club Outstanding Teacher-of-the-Year Award for Logger’s Run Middle School, and she received the Outstanding- Teacher-of-the-Year Award once from Boca Raton Middle School.
“We are supportive [of] each other to ‘survive’ 35 years of middle school teaching,” Mrs. Longazel comments. “We learned from each other. He loved working with students and with cooperative learning groups in social studies classes. His patience, kindness, and dedication to the profession is admirable.”
Mr.Longazel says learning from his students is his favorite part about being a teacher. “They kept me ‘up to date’ on the current music, fads, and thought processes of America’s young people. They always honestly shared their beliefs and opinions.”
Starting off as an intern at Boca Middle and later earning his master’s degree in educational leadership, Mr. Longazel later became head of the department, is a mentor to beginning teachers, and plans to continues to work until his soon retirement.
They have been teaching so long that they’ve had children of their former students in their class. Steven Gerard, who was a student of Mr.Longazel, moved back to Boca after college and Mrs. Longazel remembers running into him not too long ago and was asked about her husband. Running into former students has been quite common for the Longazel’s, given the time that they have been teaching in the area.
Peter Licata, the director of Choice and Career Options at the Palm Beach County School District, worked with both Mr. Mrs. Longazel at Boca Middle. He believed working with both of them was unique, as they are very different in their approach to teaching styles.
When asked what their strongest qualities were, Licata says, “That’s an easy one, the value of family and their impact on so many of the families here in Boca Raton over the many years. They are valued and will be missed by so many that have had the privilege of being in their classroom.”