As of June 30, a total of 15 longtime teachers, principals, teaching assistants and one social worker will be retiring, en masse, from the Tarrytown Union Free School District.
It is a big group, admitted Superintendent Howard Smith, and budgeting certainly had something to do with it. New teachers of course are cheaper than old.
“We knew there was kind of a retirement-age bubble blowing up,” said Smith. "Demographically it's a larger than usual group." With the economy being it what it is, many teachers were leaning toward sticking around, and “they were still having a good time teaching and not necessarily in a hurry to leave that behind.”
So in came a little incentivizing to encourage those potentially on the fence to opt for retirement. “It was a win-win,” said Smith. “It works out that a new teacher comes in at maybe 60 percent of the salary a retiring teacher would be making.”
Not that teachers are merely the sum of their salaries. “All have made significant contribution in their own right,” said Smith. “We lose some experience, in some cases legendary. We don't take this lightly."
Neither do fellow faculty members, students present and students past who grew up with these teachers, and maybe even remember some of their parents who were teachers. One of the retirees has been in the system 50 years.
Each school will be commemorating their retirees with their own parties, but Patch wanted to reach out to these legends and have them tell us some tales from the battle lines, good and bad, and share what's in store for them now. In their own words.
Katharine St. Vincent
ESL Chairperson, Sleepy Hollow High School and Middle School
About 100 of the ESL students surprised her in the school courtyard after school last week with a farewell that included balloons, cards, letters, roses and plenty of hugs and tears. She shares the photos here from that heartfelt moment that were sent to her.
Teaching English as a Second Language has been my passion for more than four decades. When I stepped into my classroom in 1971, I was the first official ESL teacher at Sleepy Hollow High School. Since then, I have worked to build the ESL program in the school district, have taught at the kindergarten, first grade, middle and high school levels, and in 1998 became the first ESL Department Chairperson.
I am proud of the district's commitment to the academic success of English language learners and doubly proud that our program is highly regarded across the region. Throughout my career, I have thought of myself as a bridge builder, helping immigrant students acquire the language, the knowledge and the skills to cross into a new country and a new culture. This work has been extremely satisfying and rewarding, especially when, year after year, I see students who arrived without a word of English walk across the stage to receive their high school diplomas. I know that I had a hand in helping them get that far!
My role has stretched far beyond that of "teacher"; I have been a cheerleader, a coach, a counselor, a cop, a social worker, a surrogate parent, and an advocate. This has not even seemed like work to me, since it was never the opposite of play. Supporting my students through their struggles and celebrating their triumphs has filled me up.
Leaving them will leave a huge void in my life – which I plan to fill by writing and traveling, but also by doing more of what I have done for most of my life – working with young people and educators as a consultant, social worker and volunteer teacher. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!
Thank you Katharine; and stay tuned next week for the next personal installment of this special series.
– thanks also to the contributing reporting of Kim Gaudin de Gonzalez