As part of this year's Teacher Appreciation Week, we're excited and proud to highlight the longest-serving teachers at Exeter. Mr. Terry Lorah--or "TA" as most everyone knows him--has taught at Exeter since 1984, currently serving as the Senior High's metal and electronics teacher. Although he didn't initially plan to become a teacher, his nearly 40-year career as a teacher in Exeter has left a lasting impact on students and the district that's legacy-worthy as one of the founders of Exeter's esteemed STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program. Moreover, Senior High Principal Mr. Tom Campbell describes TA as just one of those teachers that is immensely likable to everyone. "TA comes to work each day with joy and excitement. He connects to students throughout the district with his involvement in clubs, music, art--or helping kids who might need something built or fixed. His ability to connect with kids and get them excited is truly inspirational as a teacher."
Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
A: I started college without any idea what I wanted to do with my life. PSU insisted on choosing a major so I became a music major. That course of study lasted less than a year. So I changed my major to Industrial Arts Education as I really enjoyed my shop classes in HS. Mind, I still did not necessarily plan on being a teacher.
Q: Did you ever do anything other than teaching? If so, what?
A: I was fortunate to secure a job with Bechtel Corp. as an electrical engineer at the Limerick Generating Station working primarily with all electrical outside commodities and the Radwaste Building. I worked there for three years and absolutely loved that position.
Q: If you wouldn’t have been a teacher, what other career would you have pursued?
A: I enjoy motorsports and most likely would have pursued a position as a welder/fabricator with a team.
Q: Can you tell us where you’ve taught, what you’ve taught and for how long?
A: Exeter is the only school district that has employed me. I started teaching Power Tech half a day at the High School and then Junior High Woodshop the other half. I developed one of the first STEM-based classes at Exeter way before STEM was a thing. It was a hands-on science course co-taught by me and a science teacher. I also developed the RS&M (residential systems and maintenance) class and taught that for a while. When we were transitioning to a Project Lead the Way model, I was part of the 9th grade rotation team teaching a wide range of subjects. Metal Lab and Electricity classes are my focus now. I had many jobs and they all were good. I worked full time on a farm between 7th and 8th grade. A short stint at the Mt Penn Mickey Ds. The Columbian Cutlery Co hired me to run gigantic presses and do welding repair work. Powell Engineering hired me as a truck driver and roller operator constructing roads. I repaired and inspected cars part time during college at a used car establishment. All these jobs were important as they gave me insight on what I did not want to do the rest of my life.
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: The students keep you young. I get great enjoyment watching someone build something from nothing and be very proud of it. My colleagues in the High School Tech Ed Department are all a team and it is great to work with them daily.
Q: What was your favorite grade or subject when you were a student?
A: I really enjoyed being in band and orchestra. My materials classes in high school were fun and I was really good at them. Other than my father, I learned more from my metal shop teacher (Mr. Tuckey) than any college class.
Q: What’s a moment you’ll never forget from teaching?
A: There was no specific moment, but I absolutely loved working with the lovely Micky Potlunas (now Mrs. Fergusen, who teaches/directs the band at Penn State) with marching band. We had lots of fun.
Q: What’s a lesson you’ve learned from your students that you’ll never forget?
A: Computers and overall tech gadgets often fluster me and I can always count on a student to roll their eyes at me and say, "Let me show you."
Q: What’s the best thing about teaching in Exeter?
A: I live less than 10 minutes from school...very short commute even when missing many traffic lights. Exeter's school board and administrators have always been supportive of our tech programs, and now with our engineering based classes. I grew up in Exeter and it is nice having students of former students.
Q: Did you graduate from Exeter or have kids who went through Exeter?
A: Exeter is my alma mater--Class of '77.
Q: What have you learned about the profession since becoming a teacher?
A: Exeter is a very nice district but still many students arrive at school with tons of baggage, hungry, or have a questionable home life. It is great when we can identify individuals with issues and help to correct them.
Q: What teaching accomplishment fills you with pride?
A: It is always nice to run into Exeter grads and they tell you, "Thanks, I am the foreman on a construction crew," or "Thanks, I rewired my basement," or "Thanks, I am building shocks at Penske," etc. Success stories are always wonderful.
Q: What’s one skill that you hope all students learn from you?
A: I hope students learn three skills: Patience, accuracy, and perseverance.