Jenn Smith | Recess: Odd end to school year makes unusual sendoff for retiring educators

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After all the graduation ceremonies, virtual proms and step-up days, there's still a group I'd be remiss to not celebrate with this column, and that's retiring teachers and school staff. For dozens of such folks across the county, June marked their last official days on the job.

Unlike in previous years, school retirees didn't get a send-off cake in the teachers lounge, surprise flowers at an end-of-the-year ceremony, or get to wave and hug goodbye their students, families and colleagues in person. Retirement Day was certainly not like they had imagined or planned.

But instead of being completely anticlimactic, there have been reports across the county of these retirees being honored in creative ways, through mass mailings of cards, surprise video messages and gift deliveries, even retirement wave parades.

One such recipient of the latter is Juraye Moran, a music educator who has pretty much spent her entire 64 years of life in schools, from attending them locally, to teaching in them, starting in 1978 at the former North Junior High School in Pittsfield. Since 2004, she's called the Berkshire Hills Regional School District her home, teaching everything from elementary school music to stringed instruments for the high school orchestra. Since about 2005, when I started at The Eagle, she's also called, emailed or sent me Facebook messages to advocate for her students and her desire to see them receive a quality education. During an email exchange back in March, Juraye told me: "I love what I do. Seeing the progress of these students. Seeing the progress of the children of my former students. Seeing the excitement of learning an instrument on a student. Making orchestra a well known and respected ensemble at the high school. We actually were asked to play at a pep rally. A String Orchestra!! Showing students that playing a string instrument can be cool."

All kids should be so lucky to have such a teacher, and all schools to have such a dedicated resource.

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Mount Greylock Regional School music educator Lyndon Moors, who also emailed me often to keep me in the loop about his talented students, capped 35 years in public schools on June 16. "Congratulations!! I'm a better human because of you!" his former student, Gabriel Prendergast, wrote to him via a Facebook post.

In North Adams Public Schools, the district devoted a page in its newsletter to its 10 retirees, from teachers, to a cafeteria manager, physical therapist and bus monitor.

"During my time at the North Adams Public Schools, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to complete many career goals. Among all of my professional milestones though, the accomplishment of which I am most proud is having the opportunity to expose generations of North Adams students to cultural practices and beliefs that broadened their worlds beyond the Berkshires," wrote Laurie Dickson, who taught Spanish for eight years out of more than 35 teaching years at Drury High School.

Wrote Colegrove Park Elementary School pre-K teacher, Rosemarie "Rosey" Dzierga, "I will treasure forever each moment I had with every student that walked through my classroom door! Thank you for sharing your children with me to create such wonderful and everlasting memories!!!"

Jenn Smith regrets that she may never be able to retire. But for now, she can be reached at jsmith@berkshireeagle.com, at @JennSmith_Ink on Twitter and 413-496-6239.


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