This school year has wound down with so many things disappearing off the calendar like prom, eighth grade dance, spring break, awards banquets and so much more. Something else that has vanished in the wake of COVID-19 is the end of the year fanfare for the teachers and staff who are retiring. Just like the classmates who did not get the chance to say good-bye to friends, teachers lamented they did not get to finish the year with students and end their careers as they thought they would. As these educators leave the Mainland area schools and move on to the next chapter in their lives, so also goes centuries of helping to shape students for life in the classroom and beyond.
Northfield Community School
In Northfield special education teacher Betty Ann Miller and basic skills teacher Angela Shami stood in the cul de sac of the school and waved good-bye to students and parents during a drive-by parade in their honor.
“It is not what I had planned but not much about this year is what anyone would have planned,” said Miller, a 27-year veteran teacher.
Miller said it was her student’s enthusiasm whenever they learned something new that made her love every day of her job.
Northfield Elementary Principal Maureen Vaccaro said of Miller, “Mrs. Miller is loved by her students and respected by their parents. She always put high expectations on her students and has been dedicated to their academic as well as social and emotional growth. She is a teacher in every sense of the word.”
Shami said, “It is just things the kids would say or how they would respond to really understanding something that made me love to teach."
Shami has been a part of the Northfield team for 17 years. Northfield Middle School Principal Kevin Morrison said, “Mrs. Shami would do anything to help her students and even took on teaching a student a much higher level of math to accelerate his growth. We wish her well.”
Also retiring from Northfield Community School is physical education teacher Jane Lundbeck.
Vaccaro said, “Mrs. Lundbeck always prepares a strong program for the students that helps them work toward a goal of an active and healthy lifestyle. She has been a big part of helping her students incorporate these concepts.”
St. Joseph Regional School
Veteran teacher Donna Hink is leaving the St. Joseph’s close-knit school community at the end of June after 10 years at St. Joe’s and 12 years at St. Augustine Elementary School in Ocean City before that. She was a fifth-grade teacher and later taught science in the middle school.
Principal Janice Fipp said, “Mrs. Hink is one of the most positive, energetic and loving individuals, I've had the pleasure to know. She loves the Saint Joseph community and we love her. She will be missed.” Hink is leaving with a bucket list, to visit every professional baseball park with her husband and every national park.
There are two educators retiring at the end of the month in Somers Point; pre-kindergarten teacher Sue Castellano and New York Avenue School Principal and Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor Kim Tucker. Castellano has been with the Somers Point schools for 30 years.
New York Avenue Principal Kim Tucker said, “Ms. Castellano was instrumental in beginning the Pre-K program in Somers Point and has been with the program since it was located in off-site locations before moving to the New York Avenue School. She is an expert in early childhood and her calm, nurturing approach has made a multitude of children feel comfortable during their first school experience.”
Kim Tucker has been with the Somers Point Schools for only six years but caps off a 32-year career.
District Superintendent Michelle Carney Ray Yoder said, "Kim Tucker has made a tremendous impact in the Somers Point School District with her knowledge of Professional Learning Communities and curriculum. She has set us on a great trajectory for the best interest of our students."
Tucker, who will continue in the field of education at Stockton said, “I have loved my time in Somers Point and never cease to be impressed by the staff's dedication and commitment to life-long learning.”
Retiring at the end of the month from the Linwood staff is Lauri Greenberg, a speech language specialist in the district for nearly 23 years. Superintendent Brian Pruitt said they will miss having Greenberg on the Linwood team but can only wish her the very best in the next chapter of her life.
Mainland Regional High School
Familiar faces will soon move on, opening the door for new faces in the halls at the high school. While some will be replaced, their departure marks a change for the Mustang nation they have all met over the years. The largest group of retirees this year is from Mainland Regional High School, where 13 educators and staff members have chosen to retire. Collectively they represent more than 300 years of experience working with students from Linwood, Northfield and Somers Point. That group includes one school resource officer, a social worker, two counselors, two secretaries, a supervisor of instruction and six teachers.
Barbara Beck, a physics teacher spent 17 years teaching at Mainland. Richard Calimer has been the School Resource Officer at the high school for 19 years. Erland Chau is the longest tenured teacher at Mainland. He taught science at Mainland for 44 years. Judy Cline, a teacher of English and Performing Arts and the director of countless plays, musicals and Mr. Mainland competitions leaves after 34 years on the job. Bob Coffey has been a physics teacher for 38 years but he also led the very successful Mustang football team for many years. Judith Letson is a social worker at the high school and leaves after a 19-year career. Guidance counselor Sandy Manos is retiring after a 15-year career and fellow counselor Bob Roesch is leaving after 18 years of helping students choose the right classes and the best colleges. Computer teacher Frank Marascio has been teaching computer science for 16 years along with coaching softball. Special Education teacher Heather Savio is retiring after a quarter of a century at Mainland. Child Study Team Secretary Brenda Schulte is retiring after a 19-year career and Athletic Director Secretary, Karen Stiteler is moving on after 28 years at Mainland. Supervisor of Instruction, Kathleen Villano is also retiring, concluding a 17-year career at the school.