”Choosing to teach is a vote for my family and to be a part of the greater community.”
Raymond LaFleur ’04
High School, Math Teacher
By Stacy Yuen
When Raymond LaFleur ‘04 tells you he was born in a bamboo hut on the outskirts of Subic Bay, Philippines, he’s not kidding.
The son of a United States Marine Corps sergeant and a Filipino waitress, LaFleur’s life has been a series of challenges, adventures and triumphs.
The family, which included his younger brother, Robert LaFleur ’06, arrived in Hawaiʻi in 1998. LaFleur enrolled at Kailua Intermediate School where he soon outgrew the math curriculum.
“My parents handed me some catalogs and told me to choose my next school,” he says. “I chose Mid-Pacific.”
Living on the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, the commute to Mānoa was long.
“My parents dropped me off at the Kaneʻohe Burger King where I’d lock my bike and catch the bus to school,” recalls LaFleur. “After school, I would catch the bus back to the Burger King and ride my bike home.”
The shy and awkward freshman helped earn his way through school by working in the cafeteria. In his sophomore year, as his father was deployed, LaFleur felt a new level of motivation and discipline.
“I was in the International Baccalaureate program and decided I wanted to go to the U.S. Naval Academy,” explains LaFleur.
He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy where he graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
Chasing a dream to become a Marine Corps pilot, LaFleur started training to become an officer followed by flight school in Pensacola, Florida. More schooling in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia followed with two deployments.
While on deployment in January 2016, tragedy struck when two helicopters crashed off Oʻahu’s North Shore killing 12 Marines in his squadron.
“I married my wife, Erin Boylan ’04 LaFleur, before that deployment,” reflects LaFleur. “One of the Marines killed was in my wedding party, along with good friends from the military academy.”
Unable to return for the funerals while training in Japan, LaFleur reevaluated his life and decided to leave the military to become a teacher.
He enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa earning a master’s degree in Education. Now in his third year at Mid-Pacific, LaFleur, who is also a Major in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, has fulfilled a dream to teach at his alma mater.
“Education was a critical factor in what I was able to do in my life,” he says. “Choosing to teach is a vote for my family and to be a part of the greater community.”