Longtime district teachers retire

  • From left: School Board Chair Stephen Spratt, Judy Marceau, Frank Bonarrigo, and Superintendent Stephen Russell attend a recent meeting. During the school board meeting, Mascenic administrators handed off a gift to two of its retirees.   Courtesy photo—

  • Boynton Middle School music teacher Judy Marceau with singer Josh Groban. Groban's charity, the Find Your Light Foundation, is dedicated to supporting quality arts education for children. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/18/2018 11:34:00 AM

Once a week for a number of years Josh Groban has made an appearance in Boynton Middle School’s music class. 

Judy Marceau, a now-retired music teacher, said a number of years ago a group of students learned of her admiration for the famous singer and songwriter. The group told Marceau she had to wear a Groban-themed T-shirt every Friday. 

“So if I was not to wear one, one of the sixth graders will come up to me and say, ‘you’re fired,’” Marceau said.

Marceau, who taught at Mascenic for 25 years, retired at the end of the school year. She taught for 34 years in total.

Marceau started taking piano lessons when she was in elementary school. Growing up, she sang in the church choir. And in high school, Marceau had a music teacher who was a “great mentor.”

“It’s just something in high school that I thought, ‘this is what I want to do,’” Marceau said about becoming a music teacher. 

Marceau started her teaching career in Winchendon, where she grew up.

For 15 years at Mascenic, Marceau has been the eighth-grade trip coordinator for the Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Gettysburg trip.

“It’s so nice to see them outside of the classroom environment,” she said. “To see their eyes light up and say, ‘Wow the Declaration of Independence was signed in this room.’ They’ll never forget that.”

In a recent interview, Marceau said, “it’s time for me to move on” as a reason to retire. She said the district changed the position from one full-time music teacher and one part-time band teacher into a single position. That means the full-time position that remains will include music and band. She said she didn’t feel qualified for the new position because of the band component. 

Marceau hopes the shift within the music program won’t have too much of an impact on courses that are offered. 

“There’s a lot of kids that sports aren’t their thing, and chorus and band is their thing,” Marceau said. “It gives them something to feel good about.”

Marceau said she has watched shy students leave with more confidence by the end of the year.

“I’ve had a child who is shy at the beginning and then they do a solo in front of 200 people,” she said.

Marceau said the last rehearsal for the final concert this year was emotional.

“At the end, we did a big group hug,” she said.

The last her students sang at the concert was a song by Groban called Awake. The song has lyrics like, “we can't stay like this forever, but I can have you next to me today,” and “I know that only time will tell us how to carry on without each other.” 

Diana Griffin, a physical education teacher, has been working in the Mascenic district for 29 years and taught for 45 years in total.

Griffin said she taught younger kids in the Mascenic School District for a number of years, but more recently has been splitting her time between younger grades and the high school.

She said the district created a position for her to teach adaptive physical education aimed at students who have a variety of developmental disabilities. 

“It’s been terrific,” Griffin said of her time at Mascenic.

Griffin said when she first came to the United States after teaching in Ireland for 11 years, students with special needs were still being separated from those on a more typical learning track. The country has come a long way since that time, she said.

“I’m so proud of students at Mascenic who were without exception so warm and welcoming and gentle and kind to all of the special needs kids in the school,” she said.

In a recent interview, Griffin said she was leaving to take a trip to England. She has plans to visit Ireland and Italy on the trip. Griffin said she plans on traveling a lot in retirement.

“I want to see more of this country, there are a lot of places in the U.S. I haven’t explored yet,” she said.

Griffin said she enjoys hiking and wants to explore places like the White Mountains.

Despite all of the adventures that await, she said, she’ll think back on her time at Mascenic fondly.

“I loved my job, I’ve got many, many happy memories,” she said, adding that the students were what made the experience special.

She said some of her favorite memories are the ones working with Special Olympics. 

In recent years, Griffin said she’s been teaching children of former students.

“That’s been really nice,” she said.

Frank Bonarrigo worked as a school psychologist at the middle and high school for two years.

He pursued psychology because he felt like a mission where he could “make the world a better place.”

“And that meant something to me,” Bonarrigo said.

Looking back on his long career – which unfolded in a number of places including at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, and in school districts across the state and into Massachusetts – Bonarrigo said he thinks he’s fulfilled that mission.

“That’s why I stayed in it,” he said.

Bonarrigo said he had opportunities to take positions in the private sector, jobs that would have likely paid more, but that he was content in schools.

He helped students find a path in life, a mission for themselves.

“Even if I helped one kid during my time at Mascenic, I think that makes the world a better place. That’s my opinion,” he said.

Bonarrigo said he dealt with bright, talented students, and others who had higher needs.

“I saw all kinds of people, but if they came in my door no one was special, they were just human beings who needed me,” he said.

During his time at the school, he helped coach a special needs basketball team during his time at the school. He said the team took home the gold medal two years in a row.

Bonarrigo, who is now 70, said he had worked his whole life and it was time to retire.

He sold his house in the Monadnock area and moved to North Carolina to escape the cold New England winters. Bonarrigo said he’s a licensed carpenter and plans to buy houses down there and flip them.

He said he appreciates the people at Mascenic who hired him on when he was looking for work at hi s age. He’ll remember the people he worked with during his time at the school, too.

“The teachers (at Mascenic) are by and large wonderful, and they are doing a good job,” he said.

Cheryl Bellew, a French teacher at the high school, and Marlise Bryant, the Highbridge Hill Elementary School assistant principal retired this year too.

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