Faust DeLazzer, a science teacher at Lakewood Ranch High School, stood at the front of his classroom May 21 as his students prepared for an exam.
“I think everyone but one student will do well,” DeLazzer said.
“Who is it?” a student asked.
“I’m not going to tell,” DeLazzer said.
That’s DeLazzer, making jokes to put a smile on his students’ faces.
Before class, DeLazzer went into the hallway and blasted music. He jumped up and down with his hands in the air, dancing.
Catherine Franek and Amy Adams, his fellow teachers, joined DeLazzer in the hallway and started dancing as well.
“His goal is to have every student come into his room smiling, and I think he does that,” said Candice DeLazzer, Faust DeLazzer's wife, who is an English teacher at Lakewood Ranch High.
After 46 years as teachers, both Faust and Candice DeLazzer said goodbye to the students of Lakewood Ranch High School May 27 as they retired.
The DeLazzers met when they started teaching at Southeast High School in 1975. Faust DeLazzer was the coach of the football team, and Candice DeLazzer was the cheerleading sponsor.
The DeLazzers said the cheerleaders would ask each of them what their plans were for the weekend and try to play matchmaker by setting the two of them up.
Two years later, Candice and Faust were married.
“She’s perfect,” Faust DeLazzer said. “She’s smart, organized, and I’m the ying to her yang.”
When Lakewood Ranch High School opened in 1998, Faust DeLazzer transferred to the school to be a science teacher and the first head football coach.
Faust DeLazzer liked new experiences, whether it was helping to develop the first English as a Second Language program at Southeast High or starting a dropout prevention class for teachers at Southeast, so why not be one of the first teachers and the first head coach at a new high school?
The DeLazzers’ daughter, Maria Scafario, was graduating from Southeast in 2000, so Candice DeLazzer stayed at the school until Scafario graduated. Candice DeLazzer then joined her husband at Lakewood Ranch, and their son, Kent DeLazzer, started at the high school as a freshman.
Over the years, the DeLazzers have experienced much success.
“I love what I do,” said Faust DeLazzer, who led his Lakewood Ranch High baseball team to a state title in 2003. “There’s really no highs or lows. For me, it’s pretty much all high.”
For Candice Faust, her favorite part of each year would be seeing students create a children’s book. The project would have students take what they’ve learned about plot, structure and characters and turn it into a book for a certain elementary grade level that incorporates the learning standards for that grade.
Then the Lakewood Ranch High seniors in her class would go to William H. Bashaw Elementary School to read the stories.
“It was always fun to see the students’ reactions when they came back,” Candice DeLazzer said. “They either said, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t see how you could be a teacher ... those kids wore me out,’ or, ‘I’m so sorry, I was such a pain in class and now I know what it feels like on the other side.’”
Having a combined 92 years of teaching experience means the DeLazzers have taught or coached thousands of students, some of whom have become colleagues.
“My children used to say, ‘Can’t we go anywhere without you knowing somebody?’” Faust DeLazzer said.
Candice DeLazzer said the couple lasted longer as educators than expected.
“I told him when we have grandchildren of our former students, I will make him retire,” Candice DeLazzer said. “That happened two years ago.”
Macie Adams, who is a math teacher at Lakewood Ranch, was a cheerleader for Candice DeLazzer when she was a student at Southeast High School. Then she became a teacher at Southeast High when the DeLazzers were still there.
“It was weird to me for a while to call them by their first names, but that was 30 years ago, so it’s all good now,” Adams said.
Adams learned from the DeLazzers how to be a better teacher. She’s learned how to have fun with students, how to let her guard down, and how to be goofy but still be involved.
Both Faust and Candice DeLazzer said seeing their former students become colleagues is a proud momen.
“It’s the payback for putting in those hours, when you see a love of education and love of teaching ignited in those students, and they come back and start paying it forward,” Candice DeLazzer said. “That’s pretty remarkable.”
Faust DeLazzer unexpectedly found out his cardiologist was a former student.
“Once I walked into the office, I saw him and said, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m glad you got a good grade in my class,’” Faust DeLazzer said.
Both DeLazzers loved to have fun in class.
When the Harlem Shake craze hit the nation in 2013, DeLazzer and his students made a Harlem Shake video that featured him dressed as a gorilla in a lab coat.
Bryan Thomas, the chair of the science department at Lakewood Ranch High, said on May 25, Faust DeLazzer blew up a dissection glove and put it on his head to look like a rooster. He proceeded to run down the hallway and into classrooms clucking.
“His whole career, he’s done stuff like that,” Thomas said. “I think to survive in education, you have to have humor and Faust is a practical joker.”
This summer, the DeLazzers are starting off their retirement with a cross-country motorcycle trip.
“I won’t miss grading papers until midnight, but I will miss the kids and the teachers,” Candice DeLazzer said.