Cushing retires after forming bonds with students


Riley Garand

Science teacher Gerald Cushing will retire after eight years of positively impacting the Algonquin community

Melissa Dai and Grace Campbell

Eight years ago, science teacher Gerald Cushing joined the Algonquin faculty to build new relationships while spreading his passion for science. This year, Cushing is retiring after doing just that: positively impacting his students and colleagues through his good spirit and care for everyone around him.

“[Teaching has been] all about the students,” Cushing said in an interview via Zoom. “…I look back at every year and look at the relationships I developed with my students, and that’s what kept me going back every year.”

After working as an environmental engineer for 23 years, Cushing shifted his focus to teaching when he realized how much he loved interacting with kids. Throughout his years of teaching, Cushing has formed long-lasting, strong connections with many of his students—current and former.

“Mr. Cushing has an innate ability to connect with his students,” junior  Gavin Weinberg said in an interview via email. “He forms bonds that go way beyond the confines of a school year…Regardless of the number of people in his room, he effortlessly yet intentionally manages to find a way to make each person feel seen and heard. Due to his talent at this, maintaining a meaningful and impactful bond with him is really quite easy.”

Even Cushing’s colleagues find his ability to form bonds with his students unlike any other. In fact, according to Science Department Chair Lorraine Zanini, Cushing’s most notable accomplishments from his time at Algonquin have been these relationships. 

“Mr. Cushing is a big cheerleader of students,” Zanini said in an interview via email. “He is truly someone who values the relationships he has with students. He takes an interest in his students outside of what they do in the chemistry class…He is very often seen watching both boys and girls teams compete.”

Cushing’s passion for science has been one of the many things that helped him bond with his students.

“Staying around Mr. Cushing and talking to him made me feel like I was talking to a person who shared the same passion [for science] as me,” sophomore Divyansh Shivashok said in an interview via email. “We would frequently have those geeky talks when we would talk about galaxies, aliens and interstellar travel.”

Not only has Cushing excelled in building relationships, but he also has left a lasting impression on his students and colleagues as an outstanding teacher.

“Mr. Cushing provides a hands-on approach to teaching and learning chemistry,” Zanini said in her email. “He has high expectations for all students.”

“I’ve had some people over the course of the eight years say that they were motivated or inspired to pursue an interest in chemistry, an interest in the environment,” Cushing said. “They told me that a lot of it was because of the chemistry that I taught.”

One of junior Youhanna Bebawy’s favorite memories of Cushing’s class was the April Fools’ prank Cushing pulled on his first-period class last year. 

“Mr. Cushing gave me an old phone that didn’t work, and told me to pretend to start using it,” Bebawy said in an interview via email. “…Once he announced he was passing out the tests, I pulled the phone out, and all of a sudden he grabbed the phone and started yelling for what felt like five minutes straight. And out of nowhere, he threw the phone on the floor, breaking it into pieces…Mr. Cushing then walked angrily behind the counter and pulled up the projector screen to reveal that it was an April Fool’s joke on the whiteboard.”

According to Cushing, before he revealed it to be a prank, the entire class was shocked. In fact, a student sitting next to Bebawy had her phone out on their desk, and after Cushing’s display, she sheepishly put it back into her backpack, much to his delight.

Meanwhile, Cushing has also left a deep-rooted impact as the boys’ varsity tennis coach for the past eight years.

“I know that he would want the team to carry on his ways of coaching in terms of conditioning and being ready for anything,” senior tennis player Zachary Lin said in an interview via email. “He is always looking to get the team on the court and playing, even if it means captain practices during the season and on the weekends. Coach will be missed sincerely by the team, but he knows the team will do great things and succeed in the future!”

Due to the cancellation of the spring sports season, Cushing missed out on what was to be his final season coaching the team. 

“It’s a very empty feeling to end coaching like we did without a sports season this year, so, at a minimum, I’d like to come back next year and finish it up,” Cushing said. 

Cushing looks forward to doing many things that he did not have time for during his teaching career. This includes volunteering, improving his linguistics, reading more and teaching himself to play guitar. 

“There’s always something else to do,” Cushing said. “Now that I have more time on my hands, I’m going to jump in and take advantage of that.”