Droogsma leaves Lasting Legacy


submitted by Stephanie Duffy

Trish Droogsma (left), Stephanie Duffy (Middle) and Marissa Post (Right)

Ken Killam, Adviser

  Gulf Breeze High lost a true superhero this week as “Trish” Droogsma lost her long battle with cancer. Mrs. Droogsma was everything to and for the “Breeze”: student, teacher, coach, dean, parent. Her school spirit was infectious and unmatched.

   Patricia Weed (Droogsma) graduated from Gulf Breeze High in 1982. She was a cheerleader, track star, and Junior Miss winner. She was voted Most Athletic by her class. Fellow 1982 graduate Paul Hazucha remembers, “she was someone to look up to as an academic, cheerleader, and kind-hearted girl.”

   Droogsma attended UWF graduating with a bachelors in middle and high school education with certificates in math and science. She began teaching at Milton High; then moved to her alma mater in 1987. Fellow teacher Stephanie Duffy recollects, “She got more excited about homecoming skits and dances than anyone else in the school. I loved working with her, she was always the director in our math dept. She told us what we needed to do for the skits. She had the most spirt at GBHS!”

   Most old timers at the school remember the epic battle at homecoming when Droogsma and Duffy donned Sumo wrestling fat suits and battled each other mainstage. Or the time when the entire math department came as the seven dwarves—Mrs. Droogsma was, of course, Snow White.

   As a teacher, Mrs. Droogsma’s passion for teaching and compassion for students combined to make her an effective and approachable. Former student turned Assistant Principal Sarah Barker (Class 2001) remembers: “I had her twice as a student. Mrs. Droogsma taught me Algebra I and Geometry. Math was not my subject, and I really struggled. She was so encouraging and always available for help. She pushed me to not think of myself as “bad at math” and instead to change my perspective to see math as a challenge, but not an impossibility. She was a wonderful teacher and person.”

   Mr. Hofius (Class 2007) remembers her as a teacher of teachers. “I had her for Algebra II in school. I remember her always doing well of making sure she explained things well. I think the most influence she had on my teaching was when I was a long-term substitute in 2014. I took over for Ms. Grey second semester, and my first period was where I was a co-teacher in Trish’s class. It was an Algebra 1 B class. It was wonderful because I was able to learn from her right there in class. It was like student teaching but full time, where I also experienced everything else about teaching. She helped me with classroom management and showed me ways to help students be engaged. She also taught me ways of showing compassion while still having high expectations. She was always willing to help or answer questions as I was learning the art of teaching.”

   After years in the classroom and completing her Masters in Education Administration, Droogsma became Dean of Students. Mr. Watts recalls her time as Dean:” She was an awesome Dean. Kids loved her even if she had to put them in detention. She was one of the most fair and consistent people I know. This is why she was such a big success. GBHS and its community is going to miss such a wonderful person.” Many were surprised when Droogsma left the Dean position, and the relative comfort of Gulf Breeze High, to pursue a job at Santa Rosa Adult. She felt a calling to help troubled students.

   Mr. Brothers knew her in every capacity — as a classmate, fellow teacher, Dean, parent, and friend: “Trish (Weed) Droogsma, an outstanding educator for over 30 years, began her affinity for teaching, and helping others, on Fairpoint Drive where she grew up. She is Gulf Breeze through and through, and absolutely cherished her long-time experience as a student and teacher at GBHS! I will selfishly miss her but know she’s looking down on our (her)– wonderful school– with a great big smile, sending continuous, positive thoughts our way!”

   Droogsma leaves behind her husband Mike and three children: Jamie, Jesse, and Austin. The whole family are former students of Gulf Breeze High. Austin even won the state title in discus and shot put his senior year—he matched his dad who had done the same thing for GBHS—truly an “incredible” family, with an even more “incredible” mother.

Patricia Weed (Droogsma) was the most athletic in the 1982 yearbook. (photo from 1982 GBHS Yearbook)
photo from 1982 GBHS Yearbook
photo from 1982 GBHS Yearbook