Veteran Radnor teachers say goodbye

Mary Quinlan, a physics teacher at Radnor High School who retired this year, remembers as a fourth-grader telling her teacher, who “seemed ancient at the time,” that someday she was going to be just like her.

“Now, 36 years later, I’m glad that I made the decision to become a teacher,” she said.

Nancy MacKenzie, a librarian at Ithan Elementary for 10 years, also retired. MacKenzie shares Quinlan’s sentiment that, for her, teaching has been a lifelong commitment.

“I was sure I was going to be a teacher. When I was younger, I would gather all the kids in the neighborhood around the steps and ‘teach school.’ That’s what we did; we ‘played school,’” MacKenzie said.

Quinlan got her first job at Springfield High School when she was 21, then moved to Radnor Township when a position opened up.

She has coached sports, and won two softball-league championships, and headed Radnor’s Hi-Q club.

“That’s the great thing about teaching: it gives you the summer to relax, and then when school is going on, you do it all,” said Quinlan, “It doesn’t make retirement as scary, because it feels like another summer.”

MacKenzie began her career as a classroom teacher in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District. She ended her time there and began her career at Ithan as a librarian, and won the Delaware County Librarian of the Year Award in 2009.

There are 13 teachers and faculty members total, virtually all of them veterans, retiring/resigning this year. A list of retirees follows with their last locations, positions noted if other than a teacher, and years of service in the Radnor district.

Effective June 30, 2011: Sally Ater, Radnor High School, 15 years; Joy Brown, Radnor Middle School, 21 years; Catherine Caprio, Wayne Elementary, 18 years; Anne Childs, Wayne Elementary, 21 years; Jill Dilley, guidance counselor, Radnor Elementary, 21 years; Sharon Garcia, Radnor High School, 13 years; Kristin Graham, Radnor Middle School, 25 years; Ilene Grayev, librarian, Radnor Elementary, 24 years; Carole Kelley, nurse, Radnor Middle School, 10.5 years; Nancy MacKenzie, librarian, Ithan Elementary, 10 years; Mary Quinlan, Radnor High School, 35 years; Evelyn Ryder, Radnor Middle School, 26 years; Susan Underwood, Ithan Elementary, 19.5 years.

The following 23 teachers and faculty members will be retiring, effective June 30, 2012:

Martha Albright, Radnor Middle School, 38 years; Kathleen Anderson, Wayne Elementary, 21 years; Vincent Bondi, Radnor High School, 38 years; Mary Anne Caporaletti, Radnor Middle School, 37.5 years; John Carideo, Radnor Elementary School, 31 years; Kathleen Casey, Radnor Middle School, 26 years; Aleda deLone, Radnor Middle School, 10 years; Annemie Deruytter, Radnor High School, 20 years; Eleanor Doerr, Radnor High School, 32 years; Gilda Edelstein, Radnor High School, 34 years; Charles Herceg Jr., Radnor Middle School, 27 years; Rebecca Lieb, Radnor High School, 19 years; Mary Ann McCarthy, Radnor Middle School, 38 years; Susan McFarland, nurse, Radnor High School, 15 years; David Matus, librarian, Radnor High School, 41 years; Mary Anne Morgan, Radnor High School, 34 years; Sandra Schoenholtz, Radnor High School, 20 years; Joseph Scholes, Radnor High School, 40 years; Kenneth Sklar, Radnor High School, 37 years; Bonnie Steele, Radnor Elementary School, 32 years; Susan Wolf, Radnor High School, 26.5 years; Lois Wysocki, Radnor High School, 30 years; Nancy Zion, guidance counselor, Radnor Middle School, 37 years.

The 36 retirees’ cumulative years mount to over 400 years of dedicated work.

As Radnor Middle School Principal Anthony Stevenson said at last Tuesday’s Board of Directors’ meeting, it takes a certain kind of person to become a teacher and to dedicate his/her life to educating others. Two of these retirees shared how their journeys as educators began, and spoke for their colleagues about the lifetime of commitment, dependability, love of the job and other qualities usually implied by the word “teacher.”

Radnor Township Education Association (RTEA) President Carla Skuchas pointed out that these names “represent a large group of people with a wealth of experience and knowledge of the institution.”

The large number of veteran professionals leaving can be seen as mainly the result of the bargaining agreement approved by the board and the RTEA in March, a three-year deal that contains a half-year salary freeze with no step increase and the offer of a one-time retirement bonus of $25,000 to $50,000 for eligible teachers. Teachers must be 55 years or older with at least 10 years in Radnor Township to qualify for the incentive. Skuchas explained that these teachers had to be at the top of the payroll, so when they retire they will be replaced by someone lower on the pay scale.

“All of these teachers have had long, successful careers. Ilene Grayev teaches at the graduate level, and I don’t even know how many children Anne Childs has taught in second grade. Radnor is going to be a different place without them,” said Skuchas.

The bonus applies only to eligible retirees of 2011 and 2012, making the next two years an advantageous time to retire.

The teacher contract offered “a very nice opportunity that wasn’t there before, and it’s only a two-year opportunity,” said MacKenzie, whose husband has been retired for five years. They plan to spend some time traveling.

For Quinlan, the incentive was good timing.

“I feel like I’ve won the World Series,” said Quinlan. “I was going anyway, but now they’re paying me to go. I’m retiring because I can. Most people can’t afford to retire. After 36 years of saving, and now having a pension, now having an incentive is really like hitting the home run at the World Series.”

When asked if they had any regrets, neither teacher could think of any low points in her career.

“We’re so lucky to live in Radnor,” said MacKenzie. “The students are lucky because the teachers are great, we have so many opportunities, and the teachers are lucky because the students are great.”

“I’m so glad I got into teaching,” said Quinlan. “People made fun of you for teaching, because you were so underpaid. They used to say, ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.’ I started saying, ‘Those who can, do; those who understand, teach.’”

Quinlan quoted Oprah, who upon her retirement was asked if it was bittersweet.

“She said, ‘No, it’s just sweet,’” said Quinlan “That’s how I feel.”


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