WINTHROP — Winthrop High School will be missing four longtime teachers when school returns next fall.

Mary Dumais, Nancy Kelley, Dave Poulin and Beth Salois have retired, after a combined 150 years of teaching.

Poulin said the students haven’t changed during her tenure.

“The kids are great from when I started teaching to now,” he said. “They have always been very respectful and have maintained that respect.”

Recent graduate Nora Conrad had the opportunity to learn from Dumais, Kelley and Poulin. They developed her interest in social studies, and next year she will study at the University of New Hampshire with majors in homeland security and computer science.

“When we talked about Watergate and technological aspects of events over history (during Poulin’s Modern America Class),” Conrad said, “that made me want to study these subjects. It’s going to be noticeable without him there next year.”

A graduate of Winthrop, Poulin said he thought he was headed to Washington, D.C., for federal government work when the principal offered him a teaching position. He started immediately and quickly realized it was the career for him, spending 46 years teaching social studies at the high school.

Originally from Danvers, Massachusetts, Dumais was the first person in her family to attend college, going to the University of Maine. The institution was the right fit, as was Maine. A social studies teacher at Winthrop High for the last 19 of her 42 years in education, Dumais spent the prior 17 years teaching at Winthrop Middle School.

Kelley was at Winthrop High for 33 years, first teaching business and then French. After five years of working as an accountant, she took a chance on teaching — a career she had dreamed of pursuing but didn’t upon the recommendation of her mother, also a teacher, who said the market was over-saturated.

In 2002, when Kelley’s daughter took French, it renewed her interest in studying the language. And that led to a subject change. About nine years ago, when the previous language teacher left the school, Kelley started teaching French classes, eventually making it her primary subject.

Salois spent her 29-year career teaching special education and life skills, working with students with moderate to severe disabilities. She taught 23 years at Winthrop, with several of her other years at Monmouth Middle School. A practicum opportunity at a school that educated moderate to severely disabled students when she was in high school in Hudson, Massachusetts, led her down her career path.

Also retiring from Winthrop Public Schools this year is Janet Anderson, assistant principal of Winthrop Grade School, who declined to be interviewed about her experience.

Dumais stood out to Conrad because she went out of her way to help her students be successful.

“We’d have study sessions after class and school — even after dinner,” Conrad said, describing studying for Advanced Placement tests, which give students credit in college courses.

And Kelley, Conrad said, connected to and cared about her students.

“She’d ask how you were doing or what was going on, and she really cared about your answers,” she said.

Poulin taught not just the subject but life lessons like morality, Conrad said.

“He’s really good about understanding that, when you’re teaching, it’s not just about teaching the topic but about teaching life lessons and making an impact on lives,” she said.


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