Bailey Middle honors memory of science teacher
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Bailey Middle School recently remembered a man known for his obsession with the Pittsburgh Steelers, penchant for Italian cooking and love for teaching science.
Bailey Middle students, parents, alumni and friends gathered in the Hough High School auditorium Sunday, May 20, to celebrate the life of seventh-grade science teacher Mike DeSarro, who died unexpectedly in his sleep at his Charlotte home Feb. 25.
Many members of DeSarro’s family, including his daughter, Aubrey DeSarro-Garman, and infant grandson, Luca, attended the service.
“Mark was my best friend,” said Kevin Harper, technology coordinator and in-school suspension teacher. “He gave me advice when I didn’t ask for it, but he gave me advice when I needed it.”
DeSarro, born Nov. 26, 1958, was a son of the late Joseph and Nancy Marie Frank DeSarro. He developed a love for football and baseball at East Liverpool High School in East Liverpool, Ohio, and continued to play both sports at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio.
After completing umpire training in Bradenton, Fla., DeSarro umpired almost every level of baseball, from Little League to NCAA Division I and II games to the Class A Professional League. Several of DeSarro’s students described the sports aficionado as a diehard Steelers fan.
“He loved the Steelers more than anyone I know,” said Courtney Sheets, a Hough High sophomore who attended Bailey Middle.
DeSarro-Garman said her father moved from Ohio to Charlotte in 2007 after her college graduation to enjoy a slower-paced life. Her father spoke frequently of his Bailey Middle family, often telling his daughter that he never planned to leave North Carolina, although he did have to adjust to the state’s heat.
He even had to change clothes before his Bailey Middle interview, DeSarro-Garman said, because the temperature was so warm that he sweated through his shirt.
“When he moved here,” she said, “his life slowed down. He drove a lot slower, and when we got in the car with him, I wondered if we would ever get there.”
On Dec. 30, 2011, DeSarro-Garman and her husband, Jeremy Garman, welcomed their first child, Luca Ross Garman.
Bailey Middle Principal Jennifer Dean presented DeSarro’s infant grandson a copy of Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” so he could learn about how his grandfather gave to the school community during his time at Bailey Middle.
“All of (his students) may not end up being chemists or biologists, but they will always harbor an interest in science,” Dean said.
Many of DeSarro’s colleagues, including Sean Hannum, a Bailey Middle academic facilitator who used to teach seventh-grade science, spoke about DeSarro’s extreme attention to detail and affinity for organization. He recalled how during his first year of teaching, DeSarro immediately picked up on Hannum’s own fondness of order.
“He would periodically move things around my desk just to see if I would notice,” Hannum said.
While at Bailey Middle, DeSarro served as an assistant football coach, Science Olympiad coach, a Parent-Teacher-Student Association ambassador and a member of the school data and technology teams. He was known around school for taking countless pictures, which he used to compile an end-of-the-year video for his colleagues during the school’s last teacher workday.
“Everywhere you turned around, there was DeSarro with that dreaded camera,” said seventh-grade teacher Margaret Bright.
Bright said June 11 – the day DeSarro would have presented his video – will be especially tough on Bailey Middle’s staff.
“This year, without DeSarro, it will just be the last teacher workday of the year,” Bright said.