Board of Education: Retirees are honored, calendar is approved

The Wilton Board of Education said good-bye to 13 employees with a combined 280 years of service at its meeting on Thursday, June 13. James Abbott, an industrial school teacher, and Catherine Hannah, a family/consumer science teacher, each dedicated 41 years to Wilton Public Schools. Both finished their careers at Middlebrook School.

“As a parent, and as a member of the community, I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for us,” Board of Education Chairman Bruce Likly said in his presentation. “I can say, to a person, you will be missed greatly.”

Each retiree was honored with a speech from a member of the Board of Education, along with the presentation of a small gift, as well as a book dedicated in their name to the Wilton High School library.

Speaking about Mr. Abbott, Mr. Likly said, “With wisdom, patience, sense of humor, and devotion to each individual person under his care, Jim used hands-on learning to impart priceless life skills to generations of Wiltonians.”

Ms. Hannah, and Mark Feeley were both presented by board member Laura Schwemm, who had each educator as a teacher. She spoke with pride about them.

“I first met him 36 years ago when he was my seventh grade geography teacher,” Ms. Schwemm said in discussing Mr. Feeley, who is retiring after 38 years in Wilton as a social studies teacher. “In the first weeks of school, Mr. Feeley took us to the Middlebrook library to pick out a book. If we read the book and met with him after school to report on it, he would give us extra credit. I didn’t question this at the time. But later, as an adult, I realized that this trip to the library demonstrates what makes Mark Feeley the teacher to whom everyone talks. He has always considered the whole person when he looks at his students.”

She described Ms. Hannah as someone she got to know personally, as well as a teacher.

“Cathy’s enthusiasm for teaching the intricacies of family and consumer sciences has not dwindled over the years. Instead her legacy will be the design of the new family and consumer sciences kitchen and the new culinary arts program.”

Other honored retirees included Nancy Bernasek (eight years), Victor Callirgos (33 years), Susan DeCarlo (17 years), Julia Harris (28 years), Christy Hayes (11 years), Terry Ragazzini (nine years), Joan Roman (16 years), Fred Scribner (nine years), Joyce Torres (17 years), and Janice Zelevanski (12 years).

The tradition of students presenting yearbooks to the Board of Education also took place, as Cider Mill, Middlebrook, and Wilton High each had their moment to shine.

The regular meeting carried on following the reception for the retirees in the high school library, with School Superintendent Gary Richards recognizing the efforts of the recent state championship winning teams at the school.

New textbooks are on the way to Wilton High School in basic geometry, geometry, and algebra, which will require heavy lifting on the part of students come fall.

The final note of the night was the discussion of draft III of the 2014-15 school calendar. Approved unanimously, the school year will begin on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. There will be three professional development days that will close schools for students in October, November and February. The school year will end on June 8, 2015.

Shortened days will be placed at the end of the school year for exams. Any make-up days will be added of the end of the school year, until June 19. If more than nine make-up days are needed, they will be taken from the April vacation, beginning April 13, 2015.