‘Old-school’ teacher retires from QCSD after 31 years

By Gary Weckselblatt

As he sat and read the glowing appreciation of his teaching skills from a former student, Tony Curto recalled how the young man had handled adversity in his classroom.

Robert Basile, Curto's student a decade ago, had an 89 average test score in Algebra 1, but hadn't turned in two homework assignments. His grade for that quarter? B. Had the assignments been turned in, an A was possible.

"He swore that he left them in his locker or on a table at home," Curto remembered. "My rule is, you do your homework, and you keep it in a secure place. Had he turned in those two homeworks, who knows?"

QCHS Math teacher Tony Curto.

Basile later placed the assignments he didn't get credit for prominently in his locker, where he could see them everyday, and learned from the mistake. "He really buckled down," Curto said.

In his missive, Basile thanked his teacher "for giving the tough love that pushed people out of their comfort zones and forces them to be better. Ten years have passed and I am still benefiting from your classes and the standard you set."

After 31 years teaching Math class, all in the Quakertown Community School District, Curto is retiring. And from the comments made by School Board members at their Oct. 12 meeting, it's apparent the longtime educator will be missed.

"He was always a very detailed, helpful teacher," said Craig ‘Mitch' Anderson, a former science teacher who worked with Curto. "He's very disciplined and he made kids take clear notes. He taught them how to study for tests.

"Tons of kids have told me he was the best math teacher they ever had. My nephew had him and swears up and down by him. A teacher like that means that kids learn discipline, learn how to study, learn what they're supposed to learn. Tony really believes in giving kids an education."

Fellow Board member Bob Smith, whose children had Curto as a teacher, praised the educator's approach. "It's his willingness to make sure that all the students had their best opportunity to learn the material," he said. "This is definitely a big loss. He's so dedicated to making sure the students learn what they need to learn."

Curto, who spent a year at the former Strayer Junior High, nine years at the Freshman Center and the remainder of his QCSD career at the high school, teaches Algebra 1 every year with a sprinkling of Algebra 2 and Geometry Classes mixed in.

Big on teaching students how to take notes and learn how to study for tests, Curto was always in school by 6:30 a.m. for anyone who needed extra help.

He describes himself as an "old-school, strict guy,"

"My students didn't only learn about Math," he said. "They learned about how to be good students. I'm probably the most strict teacher they'd run into in their 12 years. My goal was to help them not make same mistake over and over again."

It's something Basile took to heart. The young man was provided a superior education in QCSD, went on to study at Princeton and is now at New York Law School. In his email to Curto, Basile thanked his teacher for life-learning lessons that still matter a decade later.

"You really taught me how to be a mature, effective student learner at a time I was unaware of the impact," Basile wrote to Curto. "I remember your class and its lessons very often, and for many different reasons.

"I realized pretty early on that my entire style of note-taking is a byproduct of your teaching. While some law school professors permit laptops, I still choose to handwrite my notes, probably because I've learned how to do so in an efficient and effective way. While the disciplined note-taking method you instilled still benefits me to this day, it is only a single aspect of what made you the defining teacher of my high school experience."

Gary Weckselblatt, director of communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.

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