When first-grade teacher, Joyce English, imagined retiring, she pictured herself spending her last days in the classroom with her students. Teaching virtually during the last few weeks of her career has been what she has described as a unique experience, an odd ending to a thirty-year career that brought her endless joy.
Unlike many people who struggle with choosing a career path, Joyce knew that she wanted to be a teacher since she was in the first grade. Having both parents and an older sister in the field, she was familiar with the rewarding work involved in educating, and she yearned to make a difference in the lives of children.
Her teaching career kicked off in 1977 after she graduated from Framingham State College. She spent three years teaching in Newton, her hometown. During her three years there she met husband and Winthrop native, Paul English. Shortly after, the couple got married and moved to Winthrop and she briefly gave up teaching to raise her two children, Heather and Sean. During this time she worked an evening job at the Winthrop Hospital to make ends meet. While her children attended Winthrop Public Schools, she returned to teaching, working as both a long-term substitute and teacher aid for four years. In 1995, she began her full-time career in Winthrop as a first grade teacher and continued for 25 more years, teaching both first and second grade at the Arthur W. Dalrymple School and then the William P. Gorman Fort Banks School.
Joyce admits that teaching has been a challenging yet rewarding profession.
“Often, I worked 10-hour days and missed some of my own children’s activities to prep for my class, but I had the privilege of working primarily with six and seven-year-olds and they are so inquisitive. Their thirst for knowledge motivated me to work my hardest to help them succeed, and it is them that I will miss the most. I will also miss the amazing administrators that have guided me over the years. Each one of them helped me to become a better teacher in their own way, and for that, I am appreciative. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the extremely supportive teachers that I have been fortunate to have worked with. From those who supported me as I began my career in Winthrop, to those new teachers whom I have helped as a Mentor Director over the past several years, they deserve all my thanks. It is these very dedicated staff members that make Winthrop Public Schools what it is. On a personal note, many of the teachers I began with have become life-long friends and my retirement fun will always include them.”
Joyce will always be able to tell her story of what it was like to retire during a pandemic, and while she misses working directly with her students, she hopes to be back to visit and volunteer when it is safe to do so. Until then, she will be spending a lot of time with her first grandchild, due to arrive in September.