Archbald Woman Imparts Lessons Of Kindness, Strength In And Out Of Classroom
Archbald woman imparts lessons
strength in and out
Norine Laboranti Legg’s love for helping others starts at home.
Long before she took her place at the front of a classroom, Legg’s caring attentions focused on her own children — Jenna, now 27; Tory, 25; and Cooper, 23 — and has spread to her students, neighbors and beyond.
A Jessup native, Legg initially set out on a different career path, working in public relations and with season tickets for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. There, met her husband, professional baseball player Greg Legg, whose career on the field and then as a coach took him across the country, with his wife and their three kids joining him when they could.
While holding things down back home as her husband traveled, Legg shuttled the kids to sporting events and other activities and helped with the PTA (“If they needed someone to run the concession stand, I was there,” she said). Home also involved tending to the special needs of their oldest daughter, who, as a result of cerebral palsy, is nonverbal and uses a wheelchair.
“I had a great support system,” Norine Legg said. “My mom and dad were always there for me.”
That Jenna is even there with them at all is something the Leggs didn’t expect at first. Doctors misdiagnosed Jenna right after birth, telling the couple their daughter likely would die at age 2.
“There’s no words for it,” Legg said. “Greg and I cried the whole way home from Philly.”
Eventually the correct diagnosis came in. Jenna began receiving therapy, and the Leggs added to their family. Jenna went everywhere with them, Legg said, noting that her daughter loves sports. Her condition requires a lot of care — Jenna attends St. Joseph’s Center’s adult care program, too — and it has been a challenge, Legg said. People often comment to her that they don’t know how she does what she does, she said, or that they “could never have the strength that you have.”
“Jenna has taught Greg, Tory, Cooper and myself to have strength from adversity, to be resilient, persevere, to be kind, compassionate and loving,” Legg said.
Legg knows a thing or two about perseverance herself. As she raised her family, she decided to pursue a new career path, teaching, and went back to school at 42 to make her dream a reality.
“I also worked part-time while I was doing it, so it was challenging but very fulfilling,” Legg said. “And I showed my children that you can do it — you can work and be a mom and go to school.”
Her desire to help kids led her to teaching. Legg, who has a bachelor’s degree from University of Utah, started substitute teaching in 2001 and earned her teaching certification from Marywood University two years later. She nabbed a permanent job in 2008, earned a master’s degree in classroom technology from Wilkes University and is an eighth-grade civics teacher at Valley View Middle School. She chairs her department there; is part of the Student Assistance Program, which helps struggling kids, and the medical emergency team; and co-advises the board game club.
But her lessons go beyond the textbook. Legg aims to teach her students simply how to be good, kind people, even just by accomplishing small tasks such as opening a door for someone or picking up their messes. She hopes they see her as someone they can look up to and confide in.
“I’m one of the older teachers,” said Legg, 59. “A lot of the time, students thing of me as a mom, and that’s a good thing.”
Legg explained that her three “greatest passions” include her family; teaching, and specifically giving students the confidence they need to succeed; and also Michele’s Ladies in Pink, a group founded in memory of Legg’s former neighbor, Michele Wilcha-Zini, who died from breast cancer. The Ladies held their 12th annual Ladies in Pink party in October, raising money to help local women with breast cancer and their families and also fund scholarships for two Valley View High School seniors.
“(Wilcha-Zini) was an amazing person, and what she taught me was (to) always see the good in people,” Legg said. “That’s what I took away from Michele.”
Looking out at the party and seeing “that sea of pink,” Legg said, she realizes how many people in the audience cancer has affected. She finds the project fulfilling, knowing she is part of the effort giving “people some happiness when they’re going through the most difficult time.”
Legg has achieved much, from helping with the Ladies’ fundraising to inspiring the kids at school. But she considers her own children to be her greatest accomplishment.
“When they succeed, whether it’s learning how to put together a chair or my daughter scoring a goal in soccer (or) Jenna making little strides, that’s when you know it’s all worth it,” she said.
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Meet Norine Laboranti Legg
At home: A Jessup native, she now lives in Archbald and is married to Greg Legg. They have three children, Jenna, 27; Tory, 25; and Cooper, 23. She is the daughter of John Laboranti, Archbald, and the late Norma Laboranti and has a brother, John III, Jupiter, Florida. At work: Civics teacher at Valley View Middle School Inspirations: Seeing her students and her own children succeed and achieve no matter what their dreams Aspiration: To touch everybody’s lives that she comes in contact with for the better Diversions: Gardening, running on the treadmill and walking her dogs Aversions: Negative people
Quote: “When it rains, look for the rainbow. When it’s dark, look for the stars.” — Oscar Wilde