During an end-of-the-year teachers’ association party, a retirement ceremony was held to bid farewell to Margaret Kelly from Webster School, Susan Smulders from Weehawken High, and principal of Roosevelt School, Anthony D’Angelo.
Their colleagues, friends, and family members attended the event at Antonia’s by the Park restaurant in North Bergen.
Earlier this year, Lorraine Blake, a teacher at Weehawken High, and Michael Blake, director of special education, also retired.
“I wish them all a happy and a healthy retirement,” said Kevin McLellan, Superintendent of Weehawken Schools. “Their years of service to the children of the Weehawken schools will never be forgotten.”
Though they all will be replaced, it has yet to be determined by whom, with the exception of Kelly. She will be replaced by Elizabeth Kallert.
Margaret Kelly says goodbye
“Since I was 11, I’ve wanted to be a teacher,” said Kelly. “I just love working with children. It’s the best profession.”
Her career has spanned 44 years, of which 43 were spent at the Daniel Webster School. It included teaching first grade for 25 years, then second grade.
When she switched from first grade to second grade, she remembers a little boy holding the door for her.
“You got promoted to second grade,” the boy said to her. “Yes,” whispered Kelly. “Is it harder?” he asked her. “A little bit,” answered Kelly.
“I just remember things like that,” said Kelly.
Kelly also taught a reading recovery program to help struggling first graders. Teaching students to read is one of the reasons why first grade is one of her favorite grades to teach.
“At the end of the year, when a child says to you ‘I can read’, it’s the best,” she said.
During the party in North Bergen, four of her students attended the event with their parents. During the school luncheon party, held the day before the last day of school, Kelly received a warm goodbye from friends and colleagues, a beach chair with beach accessories, and a gold necklace.
“I know Mrs. Kelly for a long time,” said Kathleen Stahl, school secretary at Webster School. “She taught both my boys, Brian and Daniel, for first grade. She was a very good teacher. We wish her a lot of luck. She will be missed.”
Kelly’s plans for the future include a cruise to Alaska soon and a cruise to Canada in September, the first week of school.
Also, she looks forward to spending time with her friends and daughter, a technology teacher and her son-in-law, who is a technology attorney. Though she has no grandchildren, she also looks forward to someday playing the role of grandma too.
Susan Smulders’ plans for the future
After 38 years working as a teacher and 26 of those years teaching at Weehawken High, Smulders will be saying goodbye to teaching eighth grade. “I’d like to travel and spend more time with my family,” she said. She will travel to see her family in Massachusetts and Arkansas, and is even planning to go overseas.
Smulders recalls that her mother, who was also a teacher, was her role model for a career in education. “Ever since I was a little girl, I couldn’t think of anything else,” she said.
“She’s very good at what she does, respected by the children and her colleagues,” said Mr. Anthony Calasurdo, Principal at the Daniel Webster School, who worked with Smulders.
“After 34 years as an educator in the township of Weehawken, the time has come to embark on a new journey.” – Anthony D’Angelo
D’Angelo heads for Arizona
“After 34 years as an educator in the township of Weehawken, the time has come to embark on a new journey,” wrote Mr. D’Angelo in a letter to the editor. “I wish to thank all the people of Weehawken for all the great moments, memories, and persons I have met.”
Mr. D’Angelo, who was known by others as “Mr. D” or “Coach,” will be heading to Arizona.
“Have fun in Arizona, where the only thing to worry about is getting too much sun,” was the message from John Hammer, a teacher at Weehawken High, to D’Angelo. They both started their careers at the same time and worked together throughout the years.
D’Angelo’s career was somewhat of an inspiration to Calasurdo, who followed the same career path. “He’s one of my best friends for many years,” said Calasurdo.
D’Angelo was a teacher, a coach, assistant principal, and principal, having worked at all three of Weehawken’s schools, Webster, Roosevelt, and Weehawken High.
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org