To the editor:
We are writing this letter in remembrance of David Saba, son of the late Eva “Mama Gigi” Saba of Lawrence. Like his mother, David not only served his community as a friend and mentor, he also carried on the Saba legacy by impacting thousands upon thousands of children as an educator of over 35 years at the Consentino Middle School in Haverhill.
After retiring in 2010, David continued his impact as a substitute teacher, working exclusively at Consentino for the last 13 years.
Having had the privilege of knowing Dave, Sean and I wanted to share a few stories with the community from the eyes of an administrator, a teacher and, above all, from the eyes of a friend.
Whenever I called David to substitute, he never gave me an answer without first inquiring how I and my family were doing. Shortly after he was satisfied with our well-being, he would enter the school in his trademark black Consentino Chargers Polo shirt and khakis, just as he did his entire career.
He was both the substitute teacher who staff always requested and for whom every student hoped.
During the winter, he often walked the local beach, collecting seashells to give to students; regardless of his assignment, he deemed his most important task of the day to be that of making a personal bond with children. The shells represented the kindness, friendship and impact he strived to make daily with students, even as a substitute.
As a new fifth-grade teacher hired in the winter of 2010, Sean often speaks of the time David mentored him during his first month. During that time, despite being retired, Dave was putting forth 40 to 50 hours per week to ensure Sean’s success.
However, it wasn’t the help that Sean speaks of but David’s response to a card he mailed him to thank him for his role as a mentor.
Shortly after mailing the card, Sean received a half-dozen phone calls in the following month from Mr. Saba, praising him for taking the time to write.
More recently, Sean tells of the time he went to David’s summer “Lovefest” party, a celebration honoring friendship, only to receive both a phone call and personal letter thanking him for coming.
No matter the situation, Dave’s modesty, humbleness and kindness always put those around him first.
Dave He prided himself on the individual relationships with each student.
Sean and I will never forget when he first substituted for the little guys at our school, in kindergarten through fourth grades. Despite spending his entire career as a middle school teacher, Dave would walk down the hall with our kindergarten and first grade babies, holding their hands and leading them like the Pied Piper. It was testament to the man’s compassion for the wellbeing of the children with whom he was entrusted.
Knowing how much the students looked up to him, he never let his age deter him from participating in the staff and faculty basketball games that were hosted for the students. In fact, he often jumped at the opportunity to substitute for PE classes, giving the children another chance to marvel at his basketball skills.
David Saba may not initially be as well known as his mother, who served up thousands of turkey dinners to the city's poor during the four decades she ran Gigi's Sandwich Shop in Lawrence.
However, if you spend a few minutes engaging with various folks of the Haverhill community, you will hear endless stories on the impact that his love, kindness and philanthropy had on the lives of former students, colleagues and friends of Haverhill.
He was one of the nicest men we have ever known, and his impact on those who called and continue to call Consentino Middle School their home is unprecedented.
His life as a man of faith, family and humanity will continue to live through the lives of each and every student he impacted.
Mr. Saba, you will always be a Charger.
Rest in peace, friend.
John Mele, Assistant principal
Sean Reardon, Science teacher
Consentino Middle School, Haverhill