SALEM, N.H. — Salem School District is loosing a combined 291 years of institutional knowledge on the last day of school. This year 11 teachers are retiring.
The time they have spent in Salem ranges — Fisk Elementary School teacher Jane Marshall has been teaching for 42 years, ever since the fall after she graduated college and got a long-term substitute position in the district. Laurie Collins and James Sullivan are retiring after 18 years each in the district.`
Seventh grade science teacher Rosario Beninati has been teaching for 40 years. It’s the first time since he was a young child that he won’t have to pick out a first day of school outfit.
Technology has proven to be one of the biggest changes — and sometimes a tough change — in their classrooms over time, but each have great memories of their students and colleagues from their years teaching.
The Eagle-Tribune talked with three of the teachers who have been in the district the longest about their time teaching.
“It’s not bad, just a lot of changes,” Marshall said of her time teaching.
“The best part is seeing them grow socially and emotionally, especially this time of year,” said Marshall, who is currently a second-grade teacher.
Her second- and third-grade students through the years have always shown an excitement for learning and their accomplishments in the classroom, she said.
“It’s so rewarding to see how happy they are when they have success,” Marshall said.
Through her years teaching she has brought her love of sports into the classroom. Her students have decorated pendants every time the Red Sox have won the World Series in recent years, and this year her class helped organize a pep rally for the Patriots before the Super Bowl.
Laptops have entered the elementary school classroom and her students are learning to type in their academic careers. Changing fonts and colors of the type are some of their favorite things to do. Students also enjoy research projects using school databases.
Marshall had wanted to be a teacher since playing school while she was a child, and she has looked forward to coming to school every day.
“What’s a better job than hopefully instilling the desire to learn?” she said.
Beninati agrees that technology has been one of the biggest shifts in his seventh-grade science classroom.
He's still getting the hang of everything showing up in his email inbox rather than his physical mailbox at school.
"You go down and see nothing in there, and think phew," he said. "But then you get to your computer and it's really never-ending."
Kids today, and new teachers, have grown up with the technology, so he sees it becoming a great tool when it can be used correctly, he said.
Beninati, a longtime softball coach, has plenty of memories on and off the field with his students. And he has appreciated seeing them grow both inside and outside of the classroom.
"When you see a kid on the field it's different," he said, explaining that seeing kids in different spaces is eye-opening because some students flourish more in a classroom setting, while others might do better on the diamond.
Some of Beninati's fondest memories from teaching include students who stretch outside of their comfort zones to interact with what they are learning — like frog dissections from summer programs or field trips that relate to physics.
Humanities teacher Harold Sachs has seen changes in students’ interactions during his 38 years as a teacher. He’s done a lot in his time, including a three-year stint as Woodbury School’s principal, and he holds a state record for his number of coaching wins for girls’ softball.
“It was my lucky day when I was hired by the Salem district in the fall of '81,” Sachs said. “I got to spend my entire career here and I was mentored by many administrators who helped my career.”
He is going to miss his colleagues like Maryrita Melone, an English teacher who is also retiring from Salem High after 36 years.
During his time, Sachs has noticed the classroom dynamic has changed with technology.
“It’s not good or bad, I’ve just noticed interactions with kids at the high school level has changed,” Sachs said. As a teacher and coach Sachs explained that students are not as independent, they need more guidance.
He has also seen things change in classrooms since the Sept. 11 attacks, with school shootings becoming more prevalent.
“These kids are growing up in an era where you would understand why it might be hard to connect,” he said. “In recent years, with the political divide, it seems like you are walking on eggshells all the time. You have a responsibility of being neutral, but I’m not sure.”
Robert Carpinone is retiring from Salem High after 36 years. Marie Miserek is retiring from Lancaster Elementary after 34 years. Nancy Gorman is retiring from Woodbury after 23 years. Christine Jefferson is retiring from Salem High after 20 years. Victoria White is retiring from Barron Elementary after 20 years. Laurie Collins is retiring from Lancaster Elementary after 18 years. James Sullivan is retiring from Salem High after 18 years.