Published June 27, 2019
By JILLIAN STRING
NORTH READING — Superintendent Jon Bernard and members of the School Committee honored elementary retiree Deborah Aldrich on June 3 and secondary retirees Nicolo Damiano, Robyn Forman, Suzanne Passeri, and Rosemarie Stadig on June 17.
“I have had the good fortune of knowing Mrs. Aldrich first as a parent of students that came through the high school when I was the principal, and more recently have had the good fortune of seeing her work in action as a kindergarten teacher at the Little School,” Bernard said. “I’ve long believed that kindergarten teachers, especially, really put children on a course for the rest of their schooling.”
Bernard stated that Aldrich has been a school employee for over 20 years, first as a special education paraprofessional, and then as a kindergarten teacher.
According to Bernard, it is NRPS tradition for retiring staff to choose a book to be donated in their honor to the school media center.
Aldrich chose “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg because “the story is about believing. Believing means hope. This world could use more believing in magic and hope.”
The committee also presented Aldrich with a crystal recognition bowl from Master Teacher, honoring her service to education.
Other elementary retirees who were not in attendance included Little School Grade 5 teacher Nancy Badavas (15 years), Little School Grade 3 teacher Maeve Bradley (20 years), and Batchelder School Speech-Language Pathologist Mary Hayden (16 years).
“I have mixed feelings about wishing well in retirement some of the folks that are here tonight. I’ve gotten to know them all very well over the years,” Bernard said.
According to Bernard, Damiano has taught within the district for 17 years and is currently teaching in the Social Studies Department at NRMS.
“Nick, I want to congratulate you on your retirement. You’ve developed a wonderful reputation here in North Reading. I know many students still talk about their experiences with you as their teacher and it’s well earned,” Bernard said.
Damiano chose “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl to be donated to the middle/high school media center in his honor, and he was also presented with a crystal recognition bowl.
“Thank you for this recognition. It is a bittersweet moment. If I could, I would teach another 10 years or until they wheel me out still talking about the Renaissance and the importance of the enlightenment,” Damiano said.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to teach. I can’t think of another profession that has such an impact on children’s lives, good or bad. I have always tried to be positive, supportive, and challenging. There have been many changes in education since I first started out using a stone tablet and hammer and chisel, but at its core, education remains essentially the same, to educate the whole child, to weave historical facts into a long, beautiful story of our existence, to reinforce the notion that there are no limits to what is possible, to recognize and appreciate beauty, to seek out joy, to inspire greatness. I have always been a teacher. I will always be a teacher,” Damiano added.
School Committee Vice Chairman Janene Imbriano told Damiano that he was one of three teachers who were able to reach her son.
“He loves you to this day,” Imbriano said.
Committee member Chris Pappavaselio noted that he had the pleasure of working with Damiano nine years ago when he was a long-term substitute teacher.
“I’d probably still be lost figuring out what to do if he didn’t pop across the hall and kind of give me intro to teaching lessons on the fly, and it turned into my career specifically because of how you helped me see how much fun it could be and what a difference you could make,” Pappavaselio said.
Bernard stated that the high school held its own staff recognition event, at which gifts were presented to Forman, Passeri, and Stadig.
“I had the good fortune of encountering Robyn, Suzanne, and Rose when I was the high school principal. I hired all three of them, and it’s been a special relationship that I have enjoyed with each of them,” Bernard said.
“Rose and Suzanne, as teachers in the special education department, are true advocates for children…It was very reassuring for me to have Robyn in the office of the Athletic Department. Robyn is a very special person who did some very, very difficult work under some tough conditions,” he added.
Passeri chose “Tender is the Night” by F. Scott Fitzgerald to be donated to the middle/high school media center in her honor, and Stadig chose “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.