At The Country School, we are deeply grateful to all of the health care professionals and other essential workers in our community who put their lives on the line to take care of the rest of us. We are also grateful for the lasting connections we make at The Country School. Here is a story about both.
Recently Middle School math teacher and advisor Bob McGee, about to conclude his 37th year at The Country School, was inspired to reach out to one of his former students. He had heard about an Instagram post shared by Ali Luchini '10, an ICU nurse who works in the COVID unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. In her post, Ali thanked everyone for their support of health care workers at this time (read more about it). Like so many others who saw the post, Mr. McGee, was deeply moved by the idea of his former student, who day in and day out risks her own health to serve others, thanking all of us, and he felt compelled to tell her so.
"When I read your post of thanks, my eyes teared up," Mr. McGee wrote in an email to Ali (shared here with permission from both parties). "That is just so you ... exactly the same young lady I so adored when I taught her. You were and are remarkable. You just so care about others, you don't put your priorities at the forefront ever, and just always, always remain positive with the absolute conviction that doing what is right is the only true path."
Mr. McGee and Ali (2nd row from front, first two on left)
stand next to each other in the Class of 2010 photo from the 2010 yearbook.
Mr. McGee had run into Ali last summer and said he wasn't surprised to find the same qualities he had seen in the girl who sat in his classroom a decade ago. "You still had that spark, that sense of humor, that inherent faith that individuals make a difference," he wrote. "I am here to tell you that what you do matters. It takes conviction, courage, and sacrifice. I extend you my sincerest praise for all that you do. You stand proud and strong. You go girl."
For her part, Ali responded with a similar message of gratitude and admiration (also shared with permission).
"Thank you so much for your kind note," she wrote to Mr. McGee. "It couldn't come at a better time, as I read it in my driveway after my shift Thursday. Reading your email made me tear up, I can hear you saying 'you go girl' as you did so many times at the wonderful Country School that made such an impression on me at a young age."
She went on to describe what it has been like in the hospital over these last several weeks, working with gravely ill patients, watching some come back from the brink of death and others who at first seemed to be improving instead grow sicker. She has watched her colleagues pour their hearts and souls into their work, using some of the "most innovative ideas I could imagine."
"If anything comes from this pandemic, I've seen the true trial of the human spirit," Ali wrote. "My coworkers are the kindest, strongest, and most courageous people I know. I feel completely blessed to be a part of this experience."
Ali, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Quinnipiac School of Nursing, ended her email to her former teacher with this: "It's Florence Nightingale's birthday today and her words can't come at a better time... 'How very little can be done under the spirit of fear,'" she wrote. "Thank you again for your extremely thoughtful note. Please stay safe! Hospitalizations are declining but the virus is still there – just as contagious and just as dangerous. Stay safe, stay healthy and happy!"
A few back in the day photos for both:
Mr. McGee with some of the first TCS students he taught,
including Karen Rosenthal '85 (front left), whose daughter, Tessa,
graduates from The Country School in a couple of weeks.
Another longstanding connection.
Ali's class photo from the 2010 yearbook.
Editor's Note: We end this reconnection story with some happy news. Around the same time she received her email from Mr. McGee, Ali and her boyfriend, Nick, became engaged. Then her siblings, Ashley and Michael, both class of 2012, graduated from college – Ashley from Fairfield University with a degree in nursing and Michael from Boston University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Like their older sister, they are serving the common good. Congratulations and thank you to all the Luchini siblings! Read more about them here.