After 30 years, former Catholic school teacher and graduate reunited on ‘Today’ show

By Rose O’Connor | Correspondent

Debbie Moroney, left, was recently reunited with the “Today” show’s Dylan Dreyer in St. Rose of Lima School, where a “Thank a Teacher” segment was filmed. Courtesy photo.

The library in St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold, was recently transformed into a mini television studio as Dylan Dreyer, meteorologist on the “Today” show, returned to her alma mater to film the “Thank a Teacher” segment for the daily news program.

The segment, which aired Nov. 5 on NBC, highlighted Dreyer’s former and favorite teacher, Debbie Moroney. “Whenever someone asked, ‘Who was your favorite teacher?’ it was always Mrs. Moroney,” Dreyer said.

Sponsored by Clorox, the “Thank a Teacher” installment on Today highlights the accomplishments of a teacher who made an impact on the show’s women and men’s anchors. Clorox honored the teacher’s legacy with a $5,000 donation to the school, as well as a supply of disinfecting wipes to keep each classroom healthy during cold and flu season.

“Mrs. Moroney and the second grade here shaped who I am. She was always kind. She was warm. She was just a women that I looked up to and I didn’t know it at the time, but that was helping to build my foundation and she was a part of who I would be become,” Dreyer said on camera before the emotional reunion with her former teacher was shown.

When she finally saw her former teacher from 30 years ago, she embraced her and shared the reason for her visit.

“You played such an important role in my life, and I don’t think you ever really noticed that. Just your warmth and kindness,” Dreyer said as she reunited with Moroney, who spent 19 years teaching in the first, second and third grades. “It’s just so special to see you now at this point in my life and just to say thank you. Thank you for being that role model in my life it really meant so much to me.”

Of her student from 30 years ago, Moroney recalled Dreyer’s bright eyes and smile and said Dreyer “had a special place in my heart.”

Sister of St. Joseph Mary Helen Beirne, current principal of St. Rose of Lima School, spoke highly of Moroney, who in addition to teaching, had also spent a number of years serving as the parish director of religious education before she retired to take care of her mother.

“Anybody who had her or her peers that know her, know of the depth of the love she has for her Catholic faith, her dedication to Catholic education and to the spiritual and religious formation of her children. The love of God oozes out of her,” said Sister Mary Helen, who shared that the donation given by Clorox in Moroney’s honor will be used for ongoing professional development for the faculty.

“This was a passion of hers so that’s what the money is earmarked for,” Sister Mary Helen said.

“I am deeply touched and very grateful,” Moroney said, then described that the reconnecting with Dreyer prior to the filming as being wonderful.

“I got to do what I loved, and a lot of people don’t get to do that. I am truly blessed,” Moroney said. “What touched me most was that she remembered my warmth and kindness. I always tried to reflect God’s love for them and mirror that. That makes me the most proud. ”

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