Diana Saraga: A Wonderful 25 Years at Miquon

By Kristin Sanderson

IMG_4334Diana and Walt Saraga came to The Miquon School in September 1985 as parents of Jared and Elena. As she came to appreciate the school, Diana learned of an opening for an Assistant Teacher and soon began her life as a member of the staff.

Over her twenty-five year career Diana worked with several lead teachers in first through fourth grade groups, “dancing” easily with new partners, mentoring new teachers. She shared a classroom for twelve years with Leigh Ashbrook (Pezzano). Their study of the South American Rainforest and focus on birds enlightened her personal appreciation for local birds as she learned along with her students. For one year, Diana and Joe Cuddle taught their group about England and Nordic Mythology. She taught third grade with Erin Schusler, exploring the culture of China. Louise Strauss was the lead teacher of a 3rd/4th mixed group when she and Diana studied American History, including a simulation of the Pilgrims coming to America. Lisa Messer Cooper was Diana’s partner as they introduced students to the world of Vincent Van Gogh, covering their classroom walls with children’s impressionistic self-portraits. Fern Culhane was Diana’s next teaching partner, taking kids on an overnight excursion in Ft. Washington State Park. Diana enjoyed that group’s focus on her favorite subject, mathematics. Next Diana partnered with Sarah Walsh Aghajanian, delving into the local history of the Lenape and their legends. Teacher Kate Fox and Diana took their group on a study of ancient China and life on the Silk Road. In June 2014, Hilary Levine will end the year as the last teacher partnered with Diana, wrapping up her teaching career delving into Lenape studies. What else? There were twenty-five years of bats, pigs, dragons, and pachinko boards. Old fashioned street games: marbles, jacks, kick-the-can, jump rope, and wall ball. All-school pancake breakfasts, vegetarian snacks, sewing, and nature hikes in the Wissahickon. Students felt Diana’s curiosity for learning, getting down on the floor for hands-on activities (sitting, shoes off, in the lotus position!). Diana considers working at Miquon to be her window on the world, learning more from her students than she ever could from a book.

Diana held the special position in the Miquon community of current parent and current staff member. She encountered her children’s friends in the classroom and crowded around her kitchen table at home. As a member of the staff, Diana was impressed by the broad curriculum and her colleagues’ devotion and commitment to children. She was grateful to have the opportunity to learn and embrace the staff’s sensitivity and awareness of the value of childhood. As an advocate for her own child’s struggles, she became more aware of the needs of other children, identifying the students who worked outside the box, danced to a different drummer, those who needed additional care. Diana is proud of her personal mission helping children learn to advocate for themselves and be secure in the value of their skills and talents. Most of all, Diana wants children to find the fun in life.

We will miss Diana — her quiet poise and wise spirit, her commitment to diversity, her dedication to the wellbeing of Miquon’s soul. Diana tells us she is looking forward to her duties as a doting Grandma, a backyard birder and gardener, enjoying peaceful meditation and yoga, and a lovely cup of tea with her husband, Walt. We wish her all this and more.

Respectfully, Connie Devlin

miquon_donate no creditcardsYou can make a gift to the Miquon Annual Giving Campaign in honor of Diana.  Please donate online and designate “gift in honor of Diana Saraga” in the notes section.