Most people have no idea what it takes to be a good teacher, said Maxine Mulligan, of Vineland.

The retired Vineland High School English teacher got tired of hearing people belittle the profession.

“I would always get comments that I only work 10 months a year ... and that I was just a glorified babysitter,” said Mulligan, 75. “People don’t understand how involved it is. I took work home at night and on weekends. Teaching takes up a lot of time if you want to do it right.”

So she wrote a book, “All of the Above: Confessions of a High School Teacher,” based on her extensive journals, saved student work, and funny student comments. She became a teacher in her 40s, after 26 years as a school secretary. She taught for 18 years, retiring in 1998.

“Confessions” includes some of her toughest times, such as when she had a particularly unruly class that wouldn’t do the work or cooperate. Encouragement and discipline didn’t reach them.

“They got an entire chapter,” she said.

But most of her memories are positive. She always loved working with teenagers, she said. Former student Jamie Lapsley is now teaching English at Vineland High, using some of her methods, such as dressing up as characters in books.

“Somebody told me the other day he (Lapsley) came in dressed as Julius Caesar, and someone said, ‘You must have had Maxine Mulligan,’“ she laughed.

Mulligan will sign books at the Vineland Public Library 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 25; and talk to the New Jersey Writers Society there 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 28. Copies are $16; $20 with postage. Email:

Students learn from surgeon

Jason Wong, orthopedic surgeon at Southern Ocean Medical Center, talked about his medical training and led advanced placemennt students in a simulated knee replacement at Southern Regional High School in Stafford Township recently.

This is the sixth year of a cooperative venture between the high school and the medical center.

Hospital employees honored

Nurse’s aide Fernando Perez, of Somers Point, is Shore Medical Center’s December Employee of the Month; and nutrition care assistant William Dilmore, of Mays Landing, is the January recipient, the hospital said.

Both were nominated by nurses who said patients frequently praise Perez and Dilmore for their superior care.

Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

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