Last month, the Riverhead Board of Education honored 22 people set to retire from the district at the culmination of the school year.
Two of them — Elizabeth “Tippy” Macksel and Jacqueline Case — have a combined 53 years in the district and together have worked in every school except the high school.
“I love the hometown feeling with the native people still around,” Ms. Macksel, 66, said of Riverhead, where she also lives.
Ms. Macksel, the senior clerk-typist at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School, will retire Aug. 31 after 28 years in the district.
She started out as a part-time reading aide at Riley Avenue Elementary School before taking a full-time position, working at both Phillips Avenue and Roanoke elementary schools. In 2000, she applied for a secretarial position, working at the middle school and Roanoke before becoming the full-time senior clerk-typist at Roanoke in 2008.
“A day is never the same,” she said. “I enjoy being around the students, teachers, principal.”
Before she began working in the district, Ms. Macksel walked the halls of Roanoke as a student, attending first through fifth grade there. She moved to the middle school — then called the Junior High School — for grades six through eight and completed ninth through 12th grade at Pulaski Street School, which functioned as the high school at the time. She graduated in 1970.
She said one of her favorite memories was performing Christmas carols each year in the middle stairway of the building.
Ms. Macksel said a lot has changed since she was a student — including the diversity of the school, the size of the school buildings and the development in town — but her love for the people and students in the community has always remained.
As for Ms. Case, 61, she has also spent her entire 25-year professional career with the Riverhead School District, and will retire Oct. 4. Ms. Case will retire Oct. 4 after 25 years in the Riverhead School District.
During that time she has taught first, third and fourth grades at Roanoke, Phillips, Pulaski and Aquebogue elementary schools as well as special education and summer school at Riley Avenue Elementary School.
Her last assignment was a first-grade class at Aquebogue Elementary School, where she’ll spend her last few weeks doing literacy assessments.
“It was very bittersweet,” she said of her last year of teaching. “I had a very eclectic group this year and I enjoyed it. We called it the ‘best year ever.’ It was challenging, but I enjoyed being able to help some particular students in my class who needed a little extra help, TLC and understanding. I loved all of them.”
For most of her time at Riverhead she taught in an immersion classroom, meaning that students with disabilities were mixed in with the general education students. This allowed her to use her special education background and tools as a reading specialist to work with students of all abilities.
A resident of Westhampton, Ms. Case said she’s also loved the diversity of the school and felt it was important for kids to grow up understanding different cultures, situations and family lives in order to develop empathy and understanding of others.
“I enjoy watching the children grow from the beginning of the year to the end of the year,” Ms. Case said. “I enjoyed being able to work with the children and treating them like they were my own.”
Many of her students felt this love, and some of them commented on a Riverhead News-Review post from June 20 celebrating all 22 of this year’s district retirees.
One person write: “Ms. Case, you will be missed! You’ve made an impact on many children, your love and care you have for students was amazing!! You don’t find too many teachers that goes above!!”
Both Ms. Case and Ms. Macksel said they look forward to spending more time with family in their retirement — Ms. Macksel with her husband, whom she met while attending school in Riverhead, her two children and her grandson; and Ms. Case with her children and seven grandchildren.
Photo caption: Jacqueline Case with the Riverhead school board. (Nicole Smith photo)