To the editor:
Almost one year ago—August 30, 2022, to be exact—marked the 23rd “first day” of school for our family.
So 23 years of September (yes, school consistently started after Labor Day), haircuts, new shoes and a back-to-school outfit. The boys’ approach was very different from that of the girls, but the endpoint was the same: everything felt different as the next grade or school loomed large for the year ahead.
The excitement of a postcard from the kindergarten teacher gave way to anticipation of the supply list and a visit to an always-crowded Staples store. The class lists were distributed with all the names of the kids in the class, causing a flurry of phone calls, playdates and coordination of the back-to-school ice cream parties. By the end of summer, everyone was ready for some much-needed structure and rhythm to the days. School would begin again. Like the new shiny shoes, the empty backpack, and perfectly crisp Crayolas, everything felt new and just right.
23 times the slate was wiped clean.
23 vows to make good lunches for school.
23 attempts to have the sport uniform clean.
23 back-to-school nights, teacher conferences, boxes of Kleenex to send in for the classroom.
Sun up. Sun down.
Time to say thank you. There are countless adults, and even some kids, that left their footprint on my family. Additionally there are many I am not even aware of, kept hidden in the heads and hearts of my kids. It is a pleasure to think of those that had a positive impact as we recall and retell their stories. In absolutely no specific order I will attempt to help you to know a few of these special individuals that work within the Wellesley Public Schools’ walls.
Bates Elementary School was a welcoming and special place. Mr. Ted McGlone was the custodian at Bates. A friendly face to each kid, he made small talk and knew their names. He was always willing to open a juice box or help out in some way. May he rest in peace.
Tammy and Ms. Scanlon were always at their desks offering a smile and personal hello to each child who entered. Responsibility was given to the kids, who were in turn supported by all the staff.
The principal at the time set the bar as far as the five elementary school principals that we had over the years. I have too much to say about this person, so I will just say her name and leave it at that: thank you Amber Bock—I hope your toasting skills have improved.
In second grade my son was thrilled to be compared to Johnny Damon (in looks, not baseball skill) by Ms. Marazzo (now Rosenbloom).
To Ms. Kelly, thank you for the best (and perhaps the only) trip to China the kids will ever experience.
Ms. Illyn taught confidence.
Ms. Hochburg and Cohen, your own kids were so little but you gave so much to ours—a true dynamic duo.
The fifth grade teacher that labeled my kid as a behavior problem because he was hiding under the desk was a gift, propelling us to find out why he would do that….and realizing he was terrified at not understanding his 5th grade curriculum. He got the help he needed, and again, thank you.
The stories dwindled in middle school as the kids yearned to keep more to themselves. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. John D’Auria of D’Auria Dr. in Wellesley. (Yes, he is an actual person). Dr. D’Auria was famous for his welcome meeting with new middle school parents and his “bowlers vs. dice rollers” lecture. A lesson learned by many and passed down to the kids. He was a gift to the middle schoolers that were lucky enough to know him.
Ms. Connor, whose infectious enthusiasm is matched by her true desire that kids leave her class with some new ideas.
Ms Derrien and your chocolate addiction. All four of my kids love science to this day.
Another excellent science teacher who gave one of my kids an F for forgetting her name on her paper on day #1. It hasn’t happened again, you’ll be happy to know.
The office staff seemed to know every child’s name and especially the ones with lunch pickups they guarded daily. My kids were not frequent fliers in the nurse’s office but I know how important and connected the medical staff is to the kids.
Growth as we know is often disguised as adversity. What I might have seen as a situation causing distress to my kid has led to some big lessons in our home. I wish I understood that better at the time. Thank you Ms. Lapato for teaching the kids how to find the answers working independently or collaboratively with classmates, persevering until they understood each concept. One of my kids is headed to grad school for math—never underestimate your influence. You taught them to find the answer however you can and not expect it to be handed to you.
Mr. Esposito, another icon of Wellesley (a WHS grad, and its last homecoming king). You knew my child better than I did as far as their abilities in your class. You are still a “favorite” when anyone asks that child.
“Clay with Keough” was a special time—and a gift from Dr. Keough who had a unique way of connecting at the kids’ level.
The Evolutions team, especially Dr. Kelton, defined one of our kids who went on to an experiential based university and has applied all he learned into a fulfilling career.
On the occasions I had met with (then) assistant principal Dr. Chism, your empathy, understanding and concrete advice was appreciated and put to good use.
To our amazing guidance counselor, Ms. Trask, you know what you have done for so many. For my family it went beyond the expected in your willingness to advocate and teach my kids how to advocate for themselves.
Colin Shattuck became the priceless mentor we all wish our kids would find. I know your voice is in my son’s head to this day as he excels in life. YOU changed him in a lasting way that we can never thank you enough.
The recognition a quiet kid got when chosen as a leader was life changing and has played out for this particular kid in many ways. The belief bestowed by an adult gave that child the confidence to try to be louder, bigger and take chances. The skipping over of a different quiet kid in the family left a very different and lasting mark. Remember the loud kids have always been loud—take a minute to seek out the quiet kids who wish they knew how to be loud.
The school resource officer who has forged a relationship with one kid that results in many interesting and valuable discussions at home.
And the high school coaches. Your gift of community, mentoring, examples of hard work and commitment have led two kids to the collegiate athletic scene. I hope they gave an equal effort to what they received on your teams.
Please forgive those I have not mentioned—as there are many—with whom we have crossed paths and created lasting memories. You are not forgotten.
Four kids. Four very different paths.
I am over-the-moon grateful that they have found their individual paths of success to make them good people. I once told the kids that I didn’t care what their grades were, but that if the teacher said “they are a nice kid,” that would make me most proud. I can say now—they are nice adults. Thank you to all the influencers that have impacted our family. Know that a chance meeting can have a lifelong impact. For the school staff, please know your mark far outlasts the time a child is assigned to your care. We have all learned along the way and cherish the experience.