Fund Honors Teacher

By Kane, Karen | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), August 14, 2014 | Go to article overview

Fund Honors Teacher


Kane, Karen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


When Nick Coslov, 40, was growing up in Squirrel Hill in the 1980s and attending Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, life was good - but somewhat demanding.

He wore a suit and tie to school, where standards were high and expectations even higher.

The middle school classroom of English teacher William DeTillo was a place that fit in with the school's standards but, at the same time, Mr. DeTillo's "jovial" personality made it a sanctuary "where everybody could take a deep breath," Mr. Coslov recalled.

So, when he learned in July that one of his favorite teachers had only days to live, Mr. Coslov, now a successful businessman in New York City, decided to establish a scholarship fund at Shady Side in his former teacher's name. Mr. DeTillo died Aug. 1.

The $500,000 donation that will seed the William DeTillo Scholarship Fund is among the largest the school ever has received.

"We're extremely grateful," said spokeswoman Jen Roupe, director of communications at the private school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

She said the scholarship will be used to fully fund the tuition for qualified students who otherwise would not be able to afford to attend Shady Side Academy. It's a mission that Mr. Coslov embraces.

"I had decided [a while ago] that I wanted to make a donation to Shady Side to impact students who couldn't afford to go there," Mr. Coslove said last week. "I was going to pick a student each year. But, when I learned that Mr. DeTillo was very sick, I reached out to him and told him I wanted to do this in his name. It was a way of honoring someone who was very important to me and to the school - a way to make it about him instead of about me."

Mr. DeTillo, 72, was a middle school English teacher from 1971 to 1995. Ms. Roupe said he was "beloved" by his students, many of whom he nicknamed as members of what he called his "Aardvark Club." He also founded the school's drama program. After leaving Shady Side, he taught 11 years in the Armstrong County School District, Ms. Roupe said.

She and Mr. Coslov said Mr. DeTillo made a point of keeping up with his former students, using social media such as Facebook to maintain connections. On July 28, Mr. DeTillo posted that he was losing his battle with cancer. He said goodbye, prompting hundreds of people to respond within 48 hours.

Mr. Coslov, who had Mr. DeTillo in seventh-grade English and also was in his homeroom, was among them. …

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