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La Salle’s Health Teacher and Tennis Coach Mr. Devenney Retires After 31 Years of Teaching

Maggie Rasch, Staff Reporter

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After 31 years of teaching, Mike Devenney is retiring. During his last 13 years at La Salle, Mr. Devenney has made a huge impact on the health department, as well as the boys and girls tennis teams.

“He has a very generous, giving disposition. He is a great example of the idea of enter to learn and leave to serve,” Principal Andrew Kuffner said.

He currently is the only teacher at La Salle who is guaranteed to teach every single student because each student is required to take his Health ll class during their sophomore year.

Mr. Devenney is seen as “selfless”, “community-minded”, and “multi talented”, according to other faculty at La Salle.

Originally a Catholic priest of the Paulists, Mr. Devenney found his love for teaching while working on campus ministries and high schools. He left the priesthood to get married to his wife, but continued educating students.

Mr. Devenney’s teaching career began in Santa Claus, Indiana. After teaching there for three years, he moved to different campus ministries including in Clemson, South Carolina, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Texas.

He has also worked with the Red Cross and Americorps, which is a national volunteer organization. Before he came to La Salle, he taught volunteers who work with kids how to teach first aid and CPR. Mr. Devenney also had worked with eighth graders at risk of dropping out of school because of drug involvement.  

Mr. Devenney was first called to Portland to be on a committee to write the Health curriculum that Catholic schools would have to follow. He then started going to different Catholic high schools as a guest speaker. When La Salle was looking for someone with a health and safety background, curriculum writing experience, and a new tennis coach, Mr. Devenney was the perfect person for the job.

“I wound up here because of my education background,” Mr. Devenney said.

What Mr. Devenney will miss most from La Salle is the faculty. He said, “It’s been really fun. When you go to college, you’re going to meet professors that are not nearly as talented as the people here.”

Once Mr. Devenney retires, he plans on staying very busy. He says his wife is his business manager who keeps him organized during this big shift in his life.

Since Mr. Devenney was a lifeguard in high school and college, he wants to get recertified as a lifeguard to teach adults to swim. “There [are] so many adults who don’t know how to swim and don’t want to go to classes because they don’t want to be taught by some snotty-nosed teenager,” he said with a laugh.

He also wants to get more involved in his storytelling group. “I am going to be helping people,” he said, “who are trying to learn how to write and tell stories that are really close to their hearts without crying.”

Mr. Kuffner said, “Much of Mr. Devenney’s experience revolves around his stories… The power of storytelling and teaching life lessons through stories is a strength of his.”

Mr. Devenney likes to give advice through his stories to high school students. “If 10 years from now you forget the Pythagorean Theorem, you will be okay. But if you don’t have the life skills to deal with issues in college, you’re in trouble,” he said laughing. “My goal in health class is to have kids walk away feeling prepared. Do they know absolutely everything about drugs? Do they know about the nature of addiction? Do they know how to save somebody’s life?… I tell stories so that kids know what to do if they are ever in trouble. It’s a life prep.”

In addition, Mr. Devenney is excited to start working on a book that includes different stories from teachers and students at La Salle. The stories are going to be about experiences and other special events.

During this summer, Mr Devenney is thrilled to go on the Italy trip with La Salle. “It’ll be a nice closing,” he said.

His favorite memories from La Salle include watching students grow spiritually. From talent shows to basketball games, Mr. Devenney will always remember the unforgettable experiences he was able to be a part of and witness.  

“Those are the memories that I carry the most,” Mr. Devenney said.

Ms. Alanna O’Brien, Vice Principal of Curriculum and Professional Development, said, “My favorite memory of Mr. Devenney came when he addressed our entire school community at our school theme assembly on Criminal Justice.  Mr. Devenney recounted a powerful and personal story that taught our entire community about the power of forgiveness.”

As Mr. Devenney leaves La Salle, he wants to share some words of advice to students: He wants everyone to put their phones and other devices away.

“Look somebody in the eye and see another human being,” he said.

He says high schoolers are missing out on the important things in life, like making memories. He suggests that students should take a break and enjoy the outdoors.

Mr. Devenney is known as “Mr. Volunteer” according to Mr. Kuffner, who said, “I can always count on [him] if a staff email goes out looking for volunteers.”

Mrs. O’Brien said, “[Mr. Devenney] is a constant volunteer. He will always offer to drive student busses, attend immersions, go on service trips, take tickets at athletic events, etc… We will miss all of his contributions to the community.”

Another health teacher at La Salle, Mr. Sulages, said that “Mr. Devenney has been awesome to work with the past two years.  So much hands on knowledge and experience of health and wellness. He lives the Lasallian values and volunteers his time here at La Salle and in the community… Mr. Devenney is an example of how to use the five core Lasallian Principles on a daily basis to his colleagues and students.”

In general, “Mr. Devenney is always in an exceptional and positive mood,” Mr. Sulages said. “I have never heard him say anything negative.  His positive mood and willingness to listen always puts a room at ease.”

“I don’t know what we’ll do without him next year,” Mr. Kuffner said.

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About the Writer
Maggie Rasch, Staff Reporter

Maggie is a freshman at La Salle. She plays volleyball for La Salle, as well as competitive volleyball all year round. She enjoys thrifting, traveling, and photography.

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5 Comments

5 Responses to “La Salle’s Health Teacher and Tennis Coach Mr. Devenney Retires After 31 Years of Teaching”

  1. Rebecca Ly on June 6th, 2018 9:01 pm

    I have been so lucky to have Mr. Devenney as my health 1/2 teacher and as my tennis coach for three years. Mr. Devenney is such a great storyteller and he never fails to make me laugh. I will miss him lots. May his retirement treat him well and that he catches up on rest after those 31 years of teaching!

  2. Holly Hofmann on June 6th, 2018 9:52 pm

    I have had the honor to be an assistant girls tennis coach for Coach Devenney for 7 years. His enthusiasm, organizational skills and , yes, amazing teaching stories, have encouraged me to be a better coach, player and person. Thanks for the great times!
    I can’t wait to hear the new stories you will accumulate in your retirement!! Best- Holly

  3. Liz Banta on June 6th, 2018 10:59 pm

    I have enjoyed many lunchtime jokes, stories, and conversations with Mr. Devenney, and truly appreciate his support for various Community events during my time in the FSC Office. His upbeat and supportive attitude will be missed!

  4. Tino Fabros on June 7th, 2018 10:16 am

    31 years is a third of one’s life. Mr. Devenney has devoted a third of his lifetime teaching others how to be healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He thought students how to save their lives and others. He will have another third for travel, tennis, storytelling, writing, volunteering & quiet reflections. We met 15 years ago in our first meeting for a tennis match, OES vs De La Salle, which the outcome came to my favor. And for the last 10 years we were on the same team training La Salle girls how to be outstanding tennis players. I have been fortunate to be his assistant for all these years because I learned so much. And when he retired from coaching, he pass the opportunity to me and for that I am grateful. Happy trails, Mr Devenney!

  5. Will on June 8th, 2018 12:55 pm

    Nice Article Maggie!!!!!

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La Salle’s Health Teacher and Tennis Coach Mr. Devenney Retires After 31 Years of Teaching