“They say teaching is a career but I think for me it has been a lifestyle because I have been doing it for so long,” said Mary Stanwick, who will be retiring after working her dream job for 47 years.
“Teaching for 47 years in West Seneca has really been a privilege and an honor,” Stanwick shared in her classroom at Winchester Elementary, the school she has worked at since receiving her job offer. The job was offered to Stanwick over the phone as she stood in her sorority house at Oswego State College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She later earned her master’s degree in reading from Canisius College.
“I really fulfilled my childhood dream,” said Stanwick, who loved playing teacher during her childhood. “Being a teacher has allowed me to make a difference in a child’s life, to inspire them and help them find their potential. I was always trying to bring out the best in children.”
Some of her most memorable teaching moments include meeting children’s author Robert Munch when he visited the school, and having dinner (lasagna) with him when one of her students won a meet-and-greet prize; having her aunt from Rochester visit her classroom, along with some dogs, to talk about her work with Upstate Guide Dogs; and receiving not one but two thank you letters in the 1980s from President Ronald Reagan – one for her class’ congratulatory letters when he was elected, another thanking her class for flags they created and sent to him in honor of Flag Day.
The years, though plentiful, went by fast. She still remembers her first class, and her students remember her and the multiple lessons she taught them.
“As a Winchester kid, Miss Stanwick played a huge role in helping me develop my literacy skills. These skills helped form the foundation that I would need to be successful throughout my time as a student in West Seneca and beyond,” shared Jonathan Dalbo, chief information officer and director of instructional technology and social studies for the West Seneca Central School District. “I still remember sharing with Miss Stanwick my self-published superhero picture book. I want to thank Miss Stanwick for encouraging me to be a life-long learner, and wish her many blessings as she enters this new chapter of her life.”
Whether it’s sending her an email, a friend request on Facebook or taking a bike ride to visit her classroom, many of her over 1,000 students from throughout the years have wanted to keep in touch. “It just makes you feel good because it means you really made an impression,” Stanwick said with a smile.
“All four of our kids had the benefit of Mary Stanwick at Winchester,” shared Dalbo’s mother, Janice, former music and gifted and talented teacher at Winchester and current president of the district’s board of education. “Mary is a wonderful example of a teacher who made a positive difference for so many children in the Winchester community. She will truly be missed and I wish her God’s blessings in all her well-deserved retirement years.”
Her efforts have been recognized by more than just her students and coworkers. In 2005, Stanwick was awarded Educator of the Year by the Western Region PTA. The following year, she was included in the tenth edition of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, honoring a select 5 percent of the nation’s teachers.
“Over the years, Mary has experienced many changes to the profession of teaching, and she has managed all of those changes with a pure commitment and dedication to the craft of educating our students,” shared Brian Graham, assistant superintendent of pupil services and former Winchester principal. “She has inspired children to hope and she has ignited their imagination in so many ways. Mary will be greatly missed. She deserves all of the accolades that will be coming her way and we hope that her retirement brings her new opportunities and a tremendous amount of joy.”
“Mary Stanwick is the epitome of an enduring commitment to serving children,” expressed Superintendent Dr. Mark J. Crawford. “West Seneca is so fortunate to have had her faithful service for 47 years. We thank her for all of the time and effort she devoted to the children and we wish her great happiness in retirement.”
“I think with all the help and guidance from the district, administrators, working with the faculty, the support from the board … it has made such a difference in my life,” Stanwick said. “That’s going to be the bittersweet part, saying goodbye. It has been a wonderful journey.”