Thank You Mr. Serenbetz: A Celebration of His Retirement


English teacher Paul Serenbetz, a beloved teacher and colleague, announced his retirement this summer. Mr. Serenbetz taught a variety of English courses throughout his more than 40 years at Morgan. Science fiction, Journalism, and his iconic Humanities class are examples of a few. It is an understatement to say that he had a tremendous impact on members of the Morgan family. Beyond teaching and heading the English department, he generously devoted his time, resources, and knowledge to programs like the Clinton Education Foundation, AFS (American Field Service) foreign exchange program, Junior Portfolio, the “I Love This Book” program, The Morgan Musical, the school newspaper, Education Expo, audio-visual programs, and many other academic, school, and district committees.

Students in the current Morgan School may only know Mr. Serenbetz for his legendary Humanities class, but he taught much more. For many years, he taught sophomore English, Journalism, and Science Fiction. He even ran the school newspaper long before it was the Morgan PawPrint! Past students are thankful for the effort Mr. Serenbetz put into his classes and still carry the knowledge they obtained. Alumni Jenna Kareliussen said, “As an undergraduate art student now, I have been taking art history courses that are directly parallel to what I learned in his class. I’m so lucky to be in a class where I already have learned much of the material and can easily work through assignments.” Mr. Serenbetz would even bring his students on field trips like to Yale Art Gallery and the Metropolitan Opera, where their lessons would be extended beyond the school and applied to our community. Students looked forward to seeing Mr. Serenbetz in his element, teaching outside of a traditional classroom.

Mathematics teacher John Madura had Mr. Serenbetz for journalism class, sophomore English, and Humanities when he attended Morgan. Mr. Madura was inspired to be a teacher by Mr. Serenbetz. “He’s actually who I would think about when I wanted to be a teacher,” Mr. Madura said. “Being in class with him was the first time where I thought, ‘Wow this is a person who really knows what they’re doing and loves it, and boy, I’d like to find that someday.’”

Mr. Serenbetz with his Journalism class
Mr. Serenbetz with his Journalism class

Mr. Serenbetz was not only known for his intellect and his educational wisdom. His character impacted all of those he worked with in a much greater way. His coworker English teacher Leslie Chausse would always look forward to him visiting her room each morning to share what he heard on NPR during his morning commute. He provided his own insight. “Mr Serenbetz was an amazing teacher and an even more amazing human being,” said English teacher Heather O’Brien. Mrs. O’Brien made note of his initiative as he “worked tirelessly to bring his passion for English alive.”

The faculty that worked alongside Mr.Serenbetz learned a lot from him because he left such a profound impact. “He was a role model because he always had such a great relationship with his students, and he loved his content,” said Assistant Principal Christopher Luther. English teacher Eric Carroll who is now taking over Mr. Serenbetz’s Humanities class was initially intimidated to take on the role filled by someone as intelligent as Mr. Serenbetz. After working alongside Mr. Serenbetz over the summer to understand the course and Mr. Serenbetz’s goals, Mr. Carroll felt confident in the material and honored to keep Mr. Serenbetz’s legacy going. He said, “Paul didn’t need to help me this last summer. He was retired, yet he made it known he wanted to help me and the course of Humanities, and I’m thankful he provided an open hand going forward.”

Students who had him as a teacher can all agree on his passion for teaching and his dedication to ensuring each student receives a fair and meaningful education. Former Morgan student Meghan Lindsay

Mr. Serenbetz back in 1987.

noted that “He made every student in class feel like their voice mattered, while making sure each student found joy in the topic at hand.” Outside of class, Mr. Serenbetz was constantly dedicating his time to helping his students and peers. Alumni Maggie Guba states that her favorite memory of him was getting his advice while writing her college admissions essays. She said, “He truly had my best interests at heart and only ever wanted me to succeed.”

Each year, the Morgan yearbook staff decides who the book will be dedicated to. This person is always a staff member that goes above and beyond with their involvement in The Morgan School community. In the year 2000, the Morgan yearbook was dedicated to deserving Mr. Serenbetz. He was highlighted as a strong teacher that “guides students on a journey to their philosophical roots, helps them understand modern classics, and gives them insight into the future with his sci-fi expertise.” His strong work ethic was able to “motivate students to become stronger individuals.” Students never felt as though they were below him, even though he was their authority figure because “despite the pressure of work, he always has the time for a cheerful word and a smile.” It is remarkable that students from twenty years ago described him just as students did who had him one year ago. It seems that over his tenure, Mr.Serenbetz never lost his passion, his excitement for his content, or his genuine dedication to student livelihood.

Mr. Serenbetz, we cannot thank you enough for all you have done for our school. Here are some special thank-yous from a few members of your Morgan family:

“Mr. Serenbetz: You are a giant in our field and I’m lucky to have worked alongside you. Best wishes in your retirement.” -Heather O’Brien

“Paul, we miss you and your calming presence every single day, especially now with school being a bit crazier than usual years. Additionally, whenever I am grappling with how to teach a concept, I often think, ‘What would Paul do?’ Then, like magic, an idea often comes to mind. Thank you for being a wonderful colleague and mentor.”-Julie Frydenborg

“Mr.Serenbetz AKA Paul I miss you and not a day has gone by this year that I haven’t thought about you” -Christopher Luther

“Mr. Serenbetz, thank you for making each class period one I enjoyed attending and making each and every one of your students feel like a priority. Each time I walk through New Haven, past Yale’s Old Campus, I think about all the things you taught us about not only the building itself but all the nuances that happened inside. Thank you for all you taught not only to me, but all of your students.” -Meghan Lindsay, Class of 2016

“Mr. Serenbetz, I hope you have the best time in retirement. It is well deserved, and I am so glad you stayed for one more year so I could learn under you. I’m so thankful for you and all you taught me. Best of luck!” -Jenna Kareliussen, Class of 2019

“Mr. Serenbetz/Paul, it has been an honor to call you my teacher, my colleague, and my friend. You inspired me as a student to find my own intellectual passion and pursue it intensely. I was fortunate to have you for three of my four years at Morgan. When I look back on my choices in life, I feel that finding my own path as a teacher would not have been possible without your example and influence. I think of you every time I step in the classroom, and when I am faced with both challenges and opportunities, I often ask myself how you would handle them. That approach has largely kept me out of trouble. On a serious note, The Morgan School is already not the same without you, but I am sure you know that your impact will be felt for years to come. I cannot thank you enough for all your guidance, and on behalf of all your former students and colleagues, I wish you the best in your retirement.” -John Madura

Mr. Serenbetz, we wish you the absolute best in your retirement and your adventures to come. You truly have put your heart and soul into being a teacher and mentor here, and Morgan will benefit from the lives you’ve touched and the influence you’ve had for years to come. You will always be part of the Morgan family, and The Morgan School is truly not the same without you!