Teacher, student reunite for first time since 1959

Elaine Waxman and Rose Glassberg saw one another for the first time since the former’s 12th grade graduation at a Lions Gate reunion on Aug. 2.

Elaine Waxman and Rose Glassberg saw one another for the first time since the former’s 12th grade graduation at a Lions Gate reunion on Aug. 2.

Waxman graduated from Philadelphia’s Germantown High School, where Glassberg was a teacher for 11 years. The latter was Waxman’s 12th grade English teacher and without knowing it, inspired Waxman to join the field.

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After more than 60 years, Waxman was able to thank her former teacher for the impact she made. 

The first thing Waxman showed her former teacher after the two shared a hug  was her 12th grade report card and Germantown High School yearbook.

“I had all good grades except chorus; I got a D because I didn’t show up,” said Waxman with a laugh before the two sat down and discussed their careers and common interests.

Glassberg’s life has been all about education since she graduated from Overbrook High School, also in Philadelphia. She then earned her bachelor’s degree in English from West Chester University before completing a master’s  

In the arts from Middlebury College’s school of English.

After 11 years at Germantown, Glassberg moved on to higher education and  then-Glassboro State Teachers College, now Rowan University. She also got her Ph.D in English from Temple University in 1972 and became a full professor in 1973 at what would become Rowan. That same year, she was named president of  the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Union at the university.

Waxman attended Penn State and Temple University and taught in elementary education in Philadelphia before moving to Belgium to teach at a language school. Waxman and her daughter, Joanna Greenfield, cite Glassberg for their love of language and education. 

“You must be the reason why my grammar is so good,” Greenfield said as she introduced herself to Glassberg.

Greenfield played a key role in setting up the reunion when longtime friend and Lions Gate COO Meredith Becker told her Glassberg was a resident at the facility.  Greenfield and Becker attended elementary and high school together and both remained in the area, with their children becoming friends in kindergarten just as  their mothers did. 

While Glassberg did say it was tough to remember Waxman – one of more than  1,000 students she had throughout her career – the two bonded over yearbook photos, their love of reading, appreciation of music, and memories of  Germantown High. 

“My favorite class at Penn State was the appreciation of music,” Waxman recalled. “I learned a lot about the orchestra, music during different periods of time, and instruments.”

“My first appreciation of music came when I was 11 …” Glassberg remembered. “At the Free Library of Philadelphia every Saturday, I would go in and take out books about the most famous composers. Each week, I would read about someone, then the next week go and listen to them with headphones on.”

Glassberg and Wexman had some laughs and told stories over lunch in the small private library at Lions Gate. It was a symbolic and fitting meeting place for the pair, whose first similarity was their love of literature.

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