As part of our “Back to School” coverage, all this week Petaluma Patch is profiling local teachers who have made an impact on students. Teachers featured in this section were nominated by our readers and are just a sampling of some of the wonderful and committed teachers working at Petaluma schools.
We all have defining moments—events that impact us and often alter our course in lives.
For Lynne Moquete that moment came when her mother died while she was still in high school.
“Nobody addressed what I was going through and my life started to crumble,” says Moquete, who today teaches ninth grade at . “I became so depressed and suicidal and only one teacher reached out to me and asked me how I was. If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be alive.”
Today, Moquete, 48, teaches Human Interaction, a required class that discusses social issues such as poverty, race, suicide, divorce and sexuality and is a favorite among students.
“In a sense, I feel like I was made to teach this class,” says Moquete, who has been at Casa for 17 years. “I look back on all the situations in my life and think that they’ve molded me into the type of teacher kids need.”
Before Moquete entered the classroom, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in the early ‘90s in the Dominican Republic. She still maintains extremely close ties to the island through a nonprofit she started in 1996 called Una Vida that builds houses and helps women open small businesses.
Since then, Moquete has taken hundreds of students, Petaluma community members and, more recently, school groups from around the country. A big part of Moquete’s philosophy is teaching kids to be grateful for what they have and all students in her class are required to do at least 50 hours of community service, although some students do much more.
“You have one life, you live and die and I always tell my students, ‘What are you going to do with it?’” she says. “We can either spend our lives giving to people, or we can spend it complaining about all the problems we have. It’s only when you learn how much you have that you learn to share."