Rich Tenney, PT, DPT, PRC, considers Leslie Day – his third grade teacher – one of the most influential people in his life.

“She instilled confidence in me,” said Rich, a fourth generation Prescott resident who grew up bucking hay and branding cattle on his family’s ranch.

“Ms. Day got me focused and she made a big difference in my life.”

An Inspiring Teacher

It was 1985 and Rich was one of 30 students in Ms. Day’s third grade classroom at the old Washington Elementary School in Prescott. She had given her students an assignment and was strolling around the classroom to check their progress. Noticing one bright student was rushing through his work, she said, “Hey, Ritchie, I know you can do better.”

Click here to watch My Memories of YRMC: Rich Tenney, Part 1 on YouTube.

Those words – and other kind, encouraging words – motivated Rich to work hard not only in elementary school but throughout his education. Rich went on to graduate from Northern Arizona University and to earn a doctorate in Physical Therapy from Elon University in North Carolina. He returned to his hometown after graduation for his outpatient clinical rotation at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). Soon, he joined YRMC Physical Rehabilitation Services as a full-time employee, eventually going on to supervise the department.

“I always wanted to return the kindness Leslie showed me,” said Rich, who still feels a little awkward calling his teacher by her first name.

Life Goes Full Circle

Fast forward to 2018 and Rich is returning that kindness by helping his former teacher recover from a total knee replacement surgery. As her physical therapist, Rich works with Leslie at the YRMC Wellness Center to help her regain strength, expand her range of motion and make strides in walking.

“I’m the student now,” Leslie said. “We’ve come full circle and Rich is doing a good job teaching me.”

Rich smiles and says, “And I have you to thank.”