Fords schoolteacher was ‘friend to everybody’


WOODBRIDGE — The community of Our Lady of Peace School, Fords, came together June 5 for a teary-eyed prayer service in honor of teacher Carol McCurdy, who passed away in February 2012.

“It was a celebration of her life,” said sixth-grade teacher Elizabeth Piesen, who worked with McCurdy for many years.

A tree was planted at the school after McCurdy’s passing, and last week a plaque was placed at the tree, surrounded by decorative ladybugs — a favorite of McCurdy’s. The community also recited an Irish blessing for McCurdy, who Piesen said was proud of her Irish heritage.

And while the school community of about 200 officially remembered her at that service, McCurdy’s legacy is celebrated in many ways at Our Lady of Peace.

“She adored the staff that she worked with; [she was] a friend to everybody,” Piesen said.

McCurdy originally taught at Our Lady of Peace, but left for a while to teach at Sacred Heart School in South Amboy, before returning to the Fords school.

Piesen said she was well-liked by students and faculty.

“She kind of unified the faculty when she got here,” Piesen said. “The kids loved her. She just got along beautifully with everyone.”

McCurdy’s family played a huge role in her life.

“Her grandkids were her life,” Piesen said.

McCurdy taught physical education, computers and health courses, and oversaw the creation of the school’s literary magazine, “Inspirations.” She had worked with nearly every student at the school by the time of her passing.

One area where McCurdy tried to inspire change was in her gym classes.

“She played music in all her gym classes,” Piesen said. “Her favorite was ‘Build Me Up Buttercup.’ ”

The 1960s hit was played during the June 5 prayer service.

Piesen said McCurdy had actually hated gym class as a child, “so it was her goal to not make gym competitive.” She taught the students good sportsmanship, and invented a game called “McCurdy Ball,” which the students still play.

That spirit of sportsmanship went beyond the gym.

“The most important thing to her was integrity,” Piesen said. “Her motto was always, ‘Do the right thing when no one’s watching.’ ”