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Longtime teacher is a friend to all

Pierce School: Community, colleagues to honor beloved teacher upon her retirement

Mrs. Claudia Sysyn, a longtime teacher at the Pierce School in Bennington, is retiring this year. Over the past 37 years, Claudia has been extremely devoted to the children of Bennington. She loved her students, and is beloved by both the children of Bennington and her coworkers at the school. A reception celebrating her career will be held June 16 at Pierce School.

Claudia volunteered for two years at Pierce School before doing her student teaching in 1974 under the guidance of Joan Schnare, longtime Bennington teacher and principal. Claudia graduated from Keene State College in 1975, and received her Master’s from University of New England in 2000. After her first year teaching at Antrim Elementary School , Claudia returned to Pierce School to begin her teaching career in Bennington in the fall of 1976. Claudia taught grades one through four during various years at Pierce School, but taught third grade the majority of her career. This past year, Claudia taught in the Title One Program at Peterborough Elementary School.

During her career at Pierce School, Claudia organized and played piano for holiday Christmas concerts, school plays and Memorial Day programs. Each winter and spring, she would give up her planning period to help teach the songs to the other grades, to prepare for these programs. Claudia is a creative teacher who often incorporated art and music into lessons and teaching to help make the curriculum come alive for her students.

She volunteered her time to hold a weekly after-school sewing group for third and fourth graders to teach them hand-sewing skills. During this time, students would create sewing projects to bring home. Claudia would also guide students in making handmade items to sell at the annual Christmas craft fair to raise money for the Pierce School Parent-Teacher Organization. Under Claudia’s guidance, her sewing group and the students of Pierce School also made 20 quilts to give to New Hampshire hospitals for the ABC Program which benefits at-risk babies.

Claudia worked on many committees during her career as a Conval educator. She worked for both the science committee and the language arts committee, and served as the staff development representative for Pierce School. In addition, she was an AIMS trainer who conducted training sessions to help teachers learn how to integrate math and science using engaging and interesting lessons.

Claudia was giving and generous of her time with both the students of Pierce School and her coworkers. She was the first at Pierce School to become computer literate, and would volunteer to teach her fellow Pierce School teachers computer skills after school. She was always willing to help her fellow teachers plan a lesson or give them materials for a project.

Claudia won various awards during her distinguished 39-year teaching career. In 1993, Claudia was the first elementary school teacher to receive the Conval Rotary Teacher of the Year award. In addition to this, Claudia won Harris Center Teacher of the Year in 1994, and the Antrim Grange Teacher of the Year in 2008.

Because she taught for 37 years in Bennington, Claudia often had the joy and privilege of teaching more than one generation from the same family. Her students from the past several years have often been the children of her original Pierce School students.

Parents and former students are warmly invited to stop by Pierce School in Bennington for an open house in her honor on June 16, from 3:30 to 5:45 p.m. Please join Claudia’s fellow teachers and the Bennington community to help honor her. If you are unable to attend but would like to send her your congratulations, please stop by the Dodge Library in Bennington to put your wishes on a card. You can also email Claudia with your wishes and memories at the following email address: pwelch@conval.edu.

Joyce Chiulli is a retired Pierce School teacher who worked with Claudia for 30 years.

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