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Greensburg Central Catholic teacher enjoyed 70 years as a model of service

| Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, 11:40 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Sister Christine Kiley, left, and Sister Mary Norbert, center, point to Sister of Charity Mary Helen Meyer after a ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 that honored Meyer's career as a chemistry teacher at Greensburg Central Catholic High School. The event was sponsored by the newly-formed GCC Alumni Association. Sister Mary Helen retired from GCC in 2012 after a 70-year teaching career that included 45 years at GCC where she taught honors and advanced placement chemistry. She also taught for 25 years at Sacred Heart High School in Pittsburgh.

Long past the age that most people enjoy retirement, Sister Mary Helen Meyer kept going to school each morning to teach her students.

Meyer taught honors and advanced placement chemistry for 45 years at Greensburg Central Catholic High School, where she started in September 1967.

She taught school for 70 years, finally retiring last year at 92.

For Meyer, now 93, every day is still an opportunity to teach.

She continues to tutor students at the DePaul Center at the Sisters of Charity mother house in Greensburg and will tutor science at Seton Hill University.

When she was growing up in Bellevue, Allegheny County, teaching was the furthest thing from her mind, Meyer said.

“It was the last thing in the world I wanted to do,” she said.

But over the years, she grew to love her calling.

Even as a child, Meyer always knew she would enter the convent, she said. She comes from a religious family, and she has an aunt who joined the Sisters of Charity.

“I can't tell you why it was something I always wanted to do,” Meyer said. “I like to do service for people.”

When she joined the Sisters of Charity in 1938, Meyer thought she would volunteer as a housekeeper at a home for single mothers. But she was sent to Duquesne University, where she earned her bachelor's degree.

Once she started teaching, she loved it.

She taught for 25 years at Sacred Heart High School in Pittsburgh and went to Notre Dame University to earn her master's degree to teach chemistry.

“I love teaching chemistry; it's my forte,” Meyer said.

“She's a model we all need to live by,” said Greg Bisignani, a former student and member of Greensburg Central Catholic's alumni association, which honored Meyer for her years of service during a recent basketball game.

Meyer said teaching became a source of energy for her, and she doesn't think that teaching until age 92 was anything extraordinary.

“It just seems normal to me,” she said. “I've been very fortunate.”

She enjoyed seeing students grasp the concepts and challenged herself to teach to each student's abilities.

Meyer said she stayed sharp by checking her students' Advanced Placement scores.

“My students made all 5s (the highest score), and I decided I was still doing the job,” she said.

Bisignani said Meyer touched the lives of all of her students.

“She's probably one of the most intelligent people I've ever met,” he said.

But Meyer credits her students with teaching her through the years.

“Every student you teach touches your life,” she said.

Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or kwilcox@tribweb.com.

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