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School closing dismays teachers



Published: Mon, March 3, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The teachers have been through changes in administration and teaching.

& lt;a href=mailto:dick@vindy.com & gt;By DENISE DICK & lt;/a & gt;

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN - When Roosevelt Elementary School closes at the end of the school year, it's not only the end of a school but of a family.

Six teachers, Joanne Luhaney-Thomas, Carolyn Mitchell, June Zackeroff, Nancy Cardarelli, Bobbe Humphrey and Barbara Maxin have spent their whole careers at the elementary school. The school will close after this school year, along with Devon Elementary, as part of the district's cost-cutting measures.

The teachers are a tight-knit group.

"Whether you're laughing or crying there's always someone at your side," Zackeroff said. "You don't have to ask."

They've been together through changes at the school such as eight principals, changes in enrollment and class size and new teaching techniques. But the changes in their personal lives they've dealt with together stand out more in their minds.

"We've been through marriages, births of children, deaths and even some remarriages together," said Mitchell, who started teaching at the school 33 years ago.

When Maxin's father died, Cardarelli was the first person at her door offering comfort, Maxin said. When Maxin's mom died, Luhaney-Thomas was right there providing support, she said.

"They're not just co-workers, but for me, it's a family," said Maxin, who's been a Roosevelt teacher for 29 years. When someone's absent for even a day, it's like something's missing, she said.

Response

News that the school would close brought sadness to the group. They aren't sure where they'll end up next year, but chances are slim they'll be at the same school.

"We felt like our family was being split up," Humphrey said -- and not just the family of teachers, but of the parents and community as well.

She's been at the school for 33 years.

Rumors of impending closure had floated for the past few years.

"We were always grateful that we had one more year," Zackeroff, a 28-year Roosevelt teacher, said.

They knew Roosevelt's time had come when a member of the administration asked to meet with the faculty.

"It was hard that day, waving goodbye to the kids," Luhaney-Thomas said, dabbing away tears.

The teachers plans to continue their friendship.

"We're still going to get together," Cardarelli, a 30-year veteran, vowed.

Teaching at the same school for so many years allowed the women to teach the children of some of the pupils who were in their classes, said Luhaney-Thomas, who's been at the school for 33 years.

There are also a lot of success stories.

One pupil, Darryl White, was a quiet boy in Humphrey's class many years ago. He's now a professor at the University of Nebraska and sent her a CD of his saxophone performances.

"He said he thought of me when he did the CD because I was an inspiration to him," Humphrey said. "I cried."

Reminders

Each plans to take some mementos from the school.

"I'm going to take all of the little things the kids have given me over the years," Cardarelli said. That includes dolls and teddy bears. "I've started throwing things away, but I can't throw those away," she said.

Mitchell has a similar collection she keeps in a basket in her classroom.

Humphrey has scrapbooks with photographs of her pupils, and she adds to them each year. For Luhaney-Thomas, it's posters of her pupils performing different activities.

Maxin will take a painting of the school by area artist Jim Friend. She also plans to hang a piece of her classroom's closet, a piece of wood with two hooks, in her home.

"It's a piece of Roosevelt I want to take with me," Maxin said.

The end of the school year will be rough, she said, a crack in her voice, but the teachers hope to do it professionally and at the same time incorporate the fun the Roosevelt staff is known for.

Zackeroff said the group hopes to get the gold sign purchased by pupils a few years ago and posted above the building's front entrance broken into puzzle pieces.

"Each teacher and staff member will get a piece, and once a year we can get together and put the pieces together again," she said.

& lt;a href=mailto:dick@vindy.com & gt;dick@vindy.com & lt;/a & gt;




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