Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 23
 
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
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School District Retirees Not All Leaving Because It’s Time for Social Security

Ellen Gilbert

The 25 individuals retiring from the Princeton Regional Schools this June represent, according to Superintendent Judy Wilson, “Lots of talent, love, and generations of positive impact.”

“We have been very fortunate to have had them work with our students, parents, staff, and the Princeton community over their years of service in the district,” commented Superintendent for Human Resources, Public Information and Community Relations Lew Goldstein. “We have been made richer by their collective presence, and we wish them well on their retirements.”

John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) alumni, parents, students, and members of community organizations are invited to a June 14 reception honoring retiring principal William F. Johnson’s 34 years of service to the district. The event will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. on the JWMS fields. Light refreshments will be served.

Not all of the retirees are leaving of their own accord. “I wish the circumstances were different,” said Jere Tannenbaum, a 20-year veteran of the system. After teaching elementary school at Littlebrook (LB), Ms. Tannenbaum became the district’s Elementary Math specialist four years ago, only to be told that her position was not being funded this year.

“The governor’s attitude toward teachers is very denigrating and demeaning,” observed Ms. Tannenbaum, who declined the offer of a classroom position for the coming year. “In his threats to our pension and health care, he has certainly influenced colleagues throughout the state. I don’t know if people realize how much the schools are being affected by his deep cuts.”

Some retirees said they didn’t have time right now for real reflection. With “a class play in two weeks, content to cover, assessments due, and end of the year trips and projects and cleaning up my room, I’m swamped,” said Johnson Park (JP) Kindergarten teacher Nancy Schreiber, who is retiring after 40 years.

Community Park (CP) basic skills teacher Frances Craig, herself a product of Princeton public schools, described her four decades of work in the district as “a great experience. I never looked at it as going to work; I always said ‘I’m going to school.’”

“I think she’s great, but obviously so did the students, and the staff and the district,” said Ms. Craig’s daughter Sidni, who also attended Princeton public schools. “When people found out who I was, they would tell me that ‘she was my favorite teacher,’ or that ‘she was so pretty, I Ioved her high heels.’ I’m sure there were academic accolades, but those are the things I remember.”

“I’m still in contact with a lot of my students,” said Ms. Craig, who taught second and third grades before becoming a basic skills teacher three years ago. “I listened to things that they had to tell me that they may not have told anyone else.” Ms. Craig is looking forward to playing the doting grandmother to Sidni’s 1-, 6-, and 11-year-old children, as well doing volunteer work at senior citizen centers and hospitals. Trips to India and South Africa are also in the offing, since she’s already “done most of Europe and Asia.”

Other retirees this year include CP speech language specialist Evelyn Delaney, CP fourth grade teacher Linda Gougoutas, JW maintenance supervisor Donald Hendrickson, JW special education teachers Carol Hollander and Stephanie Ives, Princeton High School (PHS) custodian Juliette Jean-Baptiste, and Riverside School (RS) first grade teacher Roseanne Kanter.

In addition to Ms. Schreiber, retiring Kindergarten teachers this year include LB’s Muriel Lewis and CP’s Donna Wepplo. LB early intervention teacher Wendy Lodge, bus driver Paul Harold, RS basic skills teacher Lucille Rosendorf, and RS special education teacher Brenda Ruiz will also be retiring, along with JW guidance counselor Barbara Silverstein, PHS secretary/library staffer Carol A. Smith, JW custodian James Valis, and PHS psychologist Karen Weden.

At the Valley Road administration building, executive secretary H. Patricia Rhodes will also be saying good-bye. “She is the heart and soul of hiring and human resources,” said Ms. Wilson.

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