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By Rama K. Ramaswamy
Every few years, depending on the number of awardees, the Wellesley Education Foundation (WEF) honors Wellesley Public School teachers who have dedicated 25 years of their careers to what Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Lussier called “most important of professions,” via the “Chair Ceremony.” This year’s Ceremony was held on March 15 at Wellesley College, where WEF and Wellesley School Committee recognized six educators for their “commitment to their profession and to the children of Wellesley.”
“For anyone to devote 25 years to their profession and in one place is really unusual," added Lussier. "I think it really requires us to honor them as an entire community.” Each honoree had a designated friend or colleague provide a “roast”; although obvious in its intent, it had morphed into a heartfelt (and often tearful) acknowledgment of each educator’s passion for the art of teaching and their perseverance and dedication towards every student, every day, for two and a half decades.
Anecdotes included riveting recollections about snakes, challenging students and colleagues, lots of laughs, and palpable sentiments about lifelong friendships; the teachers who recently retired are already severely missed. By the end of the evening, many of the honorees, along with friends, family members, and colleagues in attendance, were in agreement over being “unprepared,” as no one had brought enough Kleenex.
All six honorees were equally unanimous in their appreciation of WEF and it’s efforts in “making this ceremony so special” for the Wellesley School Committee and their colleagues, friends and families.
The list of awardees included: Rosemary Kelley, a first-grade teacher at Fiske Elementary School, who reached 25 years of service in 2016, Nancy Eich, a former second-grade teacher at Schofield Elementary School, who also hit the 25 year mark in 2016, Suzanne Whitehouse, a third-grade teacher at Upham Elementary School, who reached this milestone last year, Instructional Library Assistant Deborah Karagoezian of the Fiske School reached 25 years in 2016, and Lynn Kaminski, a Hunnewell School Kindergarten teacher, and Leonie Nakayama, Schofield School 5th/4th grade teacher, achieved this service-distinction in 2017.
According to a few WEF board members, their fellow board members who began the “meticulous and meaningful” planning process for this event “deserve a round of applause”; the planning committee started brainstorming “all the way back in January.” The WEF Chair Ceremony Committee members include the following board members: Co-Chairs Julia DePeyster and Beth Dublin, and Lisa Bida, Diane Campbell and Claudia Ticktin.
At the end of the ceremony, WEF co-presidents Susan Ryan and Erica Recht reiterated their sentiments as stated on the program: “The Wellesley Education Foundation takes pride in recognizing the individuals who have dedicated 25 years of their professional lives to providing an outstanding education to Wellesley‘s children. Their dedication vision and enthusiasm foster our students’ growth into thoughtful and productive adults. WEF believes that supporting our educators is crucial to maintaining a vibrant school system. We join Wellesley College and the Wellesley School Committee in celebrating I was school system’s tradition of excellence and congratulating our honorees.”