Wilmington teachers are just weeks away from summer vacation. But for six district employees, their time off will last a bit longer.
During a , board members recognized retiring employees who have a combined 135 years of service to Wilmington Public Schools under their belt.
“It’s with bittersweet feelings that we say goodbye to you,” said Superintendent of Schools Joanne Benton. “We’re so sorry to see you go, but we’re very happy for you.”
Kathy Bendel, Alice Biase, Jane Caira, Joyce Peterson and Cheryl Soderquist were all in attendance at the School Committee meeting and were given plaques recognizing their retirement. Unable to attend the meeting was Woburn Street School Reading Specialist Patricia Linscott, who retires after 11 years of service in town.
Bendel has been employed in the district in a variety of roles for 16 years. She was an educational tutor, permanent long-term substitute and an elementary school teacher.
“Cathy’s love is science, and she bestowed that love for science in all of the students she touched,” said Benton.
Biase served as a Special Education secretary for 29 years, and Benton joked that she hopes Biase leaves her phone number behind following her retirement so the district can continue to use her knowledge and experience.
Caira, an educational assistant, worked in Wilmington for 16 years in a long list of roles. She served in Wildwood, Shawsheen, North Intermediate, West Intermediate and Wilmington Middle School before making return trips to West, Wilmington Middle School and Wildwood.
Peterson is the most veteran employee who is retired this year having served the town for 38 years as a reading teacher at North and West Intermediate and Wilmington Middle School.
“What impressed me in the nine years I have been here is that every time I went into the middle school I was blown away by Joyce’s passion for each and every one of her students,” said Benton. “She has more energy than many of the young teachers and she gave her heart and soul to her students.”
Finally, Soderquist finished her 25-year career after working as an educational assistant at West Intermediate and Shawsheen Schools, secretary at Boutwell and Woburn Street Schools and executive assistant to the director of administration and finance.
“From the moment I walked into the Roman House, Cheryl has been everyone’s executive assistant in that building,” said Benton. “When she said she would be retiring, I was crushed. She was the glue that held the Roman House together. We’re thrilled you’re enjoying your retirement, but we miss you dearly.”
Before closing out the ceremony honoring each retiring employee, Benton had one final message to each employee.
“What more could we ask for than 135 years of incredible dedication?” said Benton. “You all have truly represented the best of what is Wilmington.”