ANDOVER — Dave Bettencourt walked over to his friend Stephen Bessette’s classroom at Doherty Middle School just before home room began yesterday morning wondering why every kid and teacher at the school was wearing something related to baseball.
“Dave said, ‘Did I miss something about today being ‘Red Sox Day’ or something,’” said Bessette. “I said, ‘No Dave, today is Dave Bettencourt Day.’”
The baseball connection is related to Bettencourt’s long career as state championship coach (four) and instructor. As for “Dave Bettencourt Day,” yesterday was his last day as a teacher at Doherty after 37 years.
While Bettencourt, a Peabody native, is a public figure due to his baseball successes in the Merrimack Valley, he says his passion has always been teaching science to middle schoolers.
“My family thinks I’m crazy because I looked forward to going to work every day,” said Bettencourt, 60, who resides in Salem, N.H.
There were a few parties early and later in the school day, with students and teachers surrounding Bettencourt. He admittedly cried a lot yesterday.
As for the timing of Bettencourt’s retirement, because of complex retirement rules and his time at Central Catholic, a private school, yesterday was the day he had to call it quits.
Doherty School principal Robin Wilson, who is in her fourth year at the school, said Bettencourt was one of the first people she met. They apparently hit it off immediately.
“My introduction to Dave was my first day and he walked into my office to introduce himself,” recalled Principal Wilson. “He said he knew a lot about me. I had been a principal at (Pentucket Middle School) and he grown up with the physical education teacher there and had found out all about me. I was impressed.”
Principal Wilson said his relationship with Doherty students trumps the impressive introduction.