By Kate Anslinger
Special Education teacher, Denise Robertson gained experience in the classroom at a very early age, thanks to her aunt, Angela Boncore, whom she admired for her dedicated work as a teacher in Winthrop Public Schools for 36 years. She had an opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes work of a teacher when she assisted in her aunt’s classroom sorting papers, making copies and tending to several chores including clapping erasers. Years later and Denise is still using her aunt as inspiration to keep her going strong in the classroom.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born and raised in Winthrop and attended the Winthrop Public schools up through the ninth grade. I moved to Florida briefly, then came back to Winthrop and graduated from Salem State with my degree in Elementary Education. I knew I wanted to teach in my hometown where I had had such a wonderful experience in school myself. I taught for a few years at the N.E. Willis School before staying home to start a family. I have two sons both attending Winthrop High School. I then went on to obtain my master’s degree in education.
Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. My Aunt Angela was a great inspiration. Throughout the years people would stop to tell me she was their favorite teacher and tell me stories about how she made learning fun and interesting, and some even told me that she was the reason they had learned to read. I also really enjoy working as a special education teacher here in Winthrop. I get to work closely with so many great educators. I have been very fortunate to co-teach with some wonderful teachers over the past few years.
Do your students inspire you?
I wanted to focus on students who may need a little more support to achieve their learning goals. I feel that the children I service are such hardworking students. These children are working double-time compared to their peers. These students are not only trying to learn the curriculum alongside their classmates, but they are also challenged with a learning disability at the same time. It’s such a great feeling when a struggling student finally makes a connection or you see the look on a student’s face when they excitedly tell you “I get it now!” These children inspire me every day to become a better educator.
If you weren’t a teacher, what other profession could you see yourself doing?
If I weren’t a teacher I would definitely be in the animal rescue field. I love animals of all kinds and rescue frequently. I’ve rescued everything from raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits to birds, dogs, cats and even turtles. Working with and saving animals is a passion of mine.