Greene cherished kids for 42 years


Henry Benton

Since receiving a Lab P.E. teacher position as her first job ever in 1980, Ms. Greene has treasured the opportunity to watch students grow and help them along the way.

Mia Lipson, News Editor

In 1980, at 22 years old, about to graduate from college, Terri Greene received a phone call offering her an interview for a P.E. teaching position she had not applied for. There at Lab, a completely unfamiliar school, Ms. Greene sat down with then-Athletics Director Larry McFarlane and asked one question: How did you get my name? To this, Mr. McFarlane responded that Ms. Greene had unknowingly received an outstanding recommendation from his alma mater, Northern Illinois University, and from there, everything was set.

Since then, for 42 school years, Ms. Greene has been a P.E. teacher at Lab, and has cherished working with kids from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“Larry’s been retired for quite some time now, but, you know, every time I see him I thank him for taking a chance on me,” Ms. Greene said. “I thank him for giving me such a nice career.”

Fueled by her passion for sports, Ms. Greene has become an essential figure in the Lab athletics and fitness community as both a coach and teacher, and will be remembered for her dedication to inspiring learning and growth.

According to current Athletics Director David Ribbens, who has worked with Ms. Greene for 20 years, she has left her mark as both a coach for volleyball and basketball teams and as a devoted, enthusiastic teacher.

“I see her as a consummate professional, always prepared, always somebody that is ready for her students each day for class,” Mr. Ribbens said. “She’s innovative, and with the curriculum which has changed over the years, she still stays on top of stuff that is new and brings that in.”

Ms. Greene said some of her favorite moments in teaching occurred when she used her skills to help a student. Recently, when teaching a tennis unit, Ms. Greene noticed one of her high school students struggling with her serve. After taking her over to a nearby fence and practicing step by step, from the throw to the hit, Ms. Green said the student was able to serve strongly and confidently with a new sense of accomplishment and pride.

“It brings a lot of joy to me when someone can accomplish something that they couldn’t do when they came into class,” Ms. Greene said. “You know, maybe they could do it a little bit, but now they’re more consistent, and can actually learn something.” 

When sophomore Ilana Umanskiy entered the volleyball unit, taught by Ms. Greene, she was nervous to practice her skills. By the end of the five weeks, she felt confident and comfortable with the lessons Ms. Greene instilled.

“At first I was skeptical about her skill tests, but as the weeks went by, I noticed myself passing the tests,” Ilana said. “I felt like I could play the game better.”

Over the years, Ms. Greene worked to expand the P.E. curriculum, adding electives such as self-defense, as inspired by her husband who practices karate.

 “I think she’s adapted to those changes in the curriculum and has been instrumental in making some of those more modern additions to the curriculum,” Mr. Ribbens said. “She really works the new stuff like yoga and some of the more modern fitness changes and activities.”

 Now, as Ms. Greene coaches her final unit, she cherishes her final time looking through the class lists, walking through the halls of the gym building, planning her final lessons and reflecting on her time at Lab. 

“I’ve just had such an awesome time here. I mean,  42 years — my only job out of college. So clearly, I loved it,” Ms. Greene said, a soft smile spread across her face. “I never even looked for another job. I never wanted to leave. Even though it was far from where I live, still, I never wanted to make a change. I mean there’s just nothing better than this. I really can’t imagine anything being better.”