Inside Scoop: Lou Santo

Inside Scoop: Lou Santo

PHOTO Lou Santo

Bree Soule, Online Editor-in-Chief

Born and partly raised in Detroit, English teacher Lou Santo was raised with his mom, dad and two brothers. As a child, he loved being around his Grandma Rose and although he never met his grandfather, he heard about him frequently.

“Even though I never met my Grandpa Nick who was born in Italy, I always heard about my grandpa,” Santo said. “Grandma Rose always talked about him.  They were growing up in Detroit back when it was a flourishing major metropolis of almost 2 million people within the city— I just think about all those stories. It would have been cool to live in the city back then. All the values and everything that my Grandma Rose instilled in both my parents and my siblings was just amazing.”

His Grandma Rose had a large impact on his faith before she passed away in 2003.

“Every time she was around, we went to church,” Santo said. “It was great. But then when she passed away in 2003, I kind of lost my faith. I never lost touch with her faith in Catholicism, but I needed that reinvigorated in me.”

In high school, Santo played baseball and golf and, although he doesn’t play golf anymore, he still enjoys baseball and watches it on TV.

“It’s gone from playing baseball in high school to watching baseball on TV and I ended up going to different stadiums around the local area,” Santo said.

Santo has been to numerous stadiums such as Progressive Field in Cleveland, Wrigley Field in Chicago,  PNC Park in Pittsburgh and Comerica Park Tiger Stadium. 

“I attend baseball games and a lot of other pro sporting events, just not as much as I used to. In the 90s and 2000s, I used to go on one every week,” Santo said.

After meeting his now wife through mutual friends, Santo moved to the Genesee County area. 

“The day we got married was the best day of my life,” Santo said. “I truly mean that’s the best day of my life. This trumps almost everything. It was Aug. 18 of 2007. She has helped me immensely in restoring my faith. Jan. 4, 2017, was also equally important as far as the best day/most important event in my life. That’s the day we officially adopted our daughter, London.”

Santo and his wife adopted London when she was just a baby because of their love for children. However, Santo was nervous about adopting a child. 

“At first I was very hesitant because I questioned my ability to be a father, whereas my wife had practically grown up raising her nieces and now great nieces,” Santo said. “To this day, her nieces ask her to babysit the great nieces. Every weekend we’ve got someone over hanging out.”

Thanks to his wife, Santo was able to calm his nerves and adopt his daughter. 

“My wife used to be a nanny and she was really good at raising babies and young children,” Santo said. “She just has a penchant for working with young kids and we’ve realized the dream of parenthood for both of us,” Santo said. “Then London happened to come into our lives and it’s been great ever since. We got to adopt her and now she’s in second grade.”

With Santo having a love for children, he doesn’t consider his career as a teacher “working.” His wife has also played a large part in his career as a teacher— even when it was hard.  

“My wife built up my confidence and told me never to give up,” Santo said. “She knew that I loved teaching. After being laid off as a long-term sub in Detroit, I struggled finding a full time teaching job outside of Detroit. When Detroit went into emergency receivership, I lost all confidence and my wife just kind of galvanized everything for me and just made it strong. She just supported me. She would say, ‘Go out and get it, try it.’”

Santo loved his teaching career at Detroit, but he wanted to be closer to home than his commute was allowing him. 

“I applied for a position in Lansing and got the job out there,” Santo said. “Although it’s far away, it’s not as bad as I-69. I just decided hey I’m gonna try in Genesee County and then boom, all of a sudden interviews started lining up.”

After applying at Fenton High, Santo landed a job as an FHS English teacher for grades 11 and 12.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Santo said. “I mean, the kids are great. I wanted to go someplace where there’s a future of growth and Fenton is growing a large amount.”

Because of the passion he has for his career, Santo isn’t planning to retire for a while, if at all. 

“I think that I’m gonna wait at least until 2035. I know that sounds far off but it’s in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not far off. If I would have stayed teaching in Detroit or Lansing, I probably would have gotten to 60-years-old and said ‘that’s it,’ but this move to FHS is going to extend my career another three or four years.”

Santo was laid off from Detroit schools and, prior to revisiting his teaching career, Santo worked in a grocery store chain for 20 years of his life after that layoff.

“When I found out that [the grocery store] company was closing, I didn’t know what was going to happen because I had worked there since 1995 part time,” Santo said. “After I got laid off [from Detroit Schools] in 2010, I went full time there and I became head cashier and a front end manager. I was starting to make a little niche for myself in that company and then all of a sudden, the owner wanted to sell. I don’t blame him for selling, we’re still friends, but that was a major setback. But that setback turned into where I am today. It got me off my butt and got me back into teaching. This is where I need to be so it’s a blessing.”

While Santo is still getting to know students and staff members, he is excited for this new chapter of his life at Fenton High.