The Canton Corner

An 80-Year-Old’s Passion for Education: The Story of Pat Colunga

An 80-Year-Old’s Passion for Education: The Story of Pat Colunga

by | May 24, 2023

At the ripe age of 80, Pat Colunga returned to education and has been dedicated to working with kids for 20 strong years. After answering the call from Canton Charter Academy in 2000, she has enjoyed a dynamic and highly successful relationship with her students. On the last day before winter break, they expressed their gratitude by sending her off with a cheerful “Happy Birthday” song.

Pat Colunga proudly returned to education after retired for only a year, driven by her passion to work with kids. She answered the call when Canton Charter Academy opened in 2000, and her dynamic relationship with students has kept her going strong for 20 years – even now at 80 years old.

On the last day before winter break, the students showed their appreciation by serenading her with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” at the opening ceremony. Colunga was further honored when she shared dinner with her friends and colleagues from the school’s intervention team.

She proudly boasts that Canton has outperformed the local district for 13 years and she feels privileged to be part of this success story. She feels a deep connection to the staff and students of the school, appreciating the opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives. The joy she takes in interacting with the children is evident as they often come rushing to greet her when she visits the classroom.

She is determined to inspire students to reach for their dreams, pointing to past student and four-time Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt as an example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication.

On one special occasion, Schmitt returned to the school and presented her gold medal to a student who was in awe of meeting a famous person. Another student showed his appreciation for Colunga’s work by stopping to see if she was still at Canton, even though he was driving down the highway. Colunga can proudly look back on her decades of service, reflecting on the thousands of students she has had the opportunity to mentor and help reach their potential.

She is adamant that the positive environment of Canton High School and the guidance it provides is invaluable and something that should not be taken for granted.

Ms. Colunga has consistently been a model of excellence, and her hard work and dedication are admirable.

Canton Charter Academy Overview

Canton Charter Academy is a distinguished tuition-free, public charter school in Canton, Michigan. The school proudly serves students from kindergarten to eighth grade and is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 99 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states and has the privilege of educating over 65,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. For further information, please visit

Mrs. Colunga’s enthusiasm and passion for working with kids has not wavered with time, and she believes that the care and support she has provided to Canton Charter Academy over the past 20 years has been greatly beneficial to its success. Due to her deep connection and bond she has formed with both the staff and students of the school, it is impossible to deny the positive impact Mrs. Colunga has had on their lives and she will forever remain an inspirational figure in their hearts and minds.

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