For Mary Dunn, deciding to retire was easy. Her daughter and grandchildren live by the beach and Mary and her husband Kenny have built their dream home close by.
But leaving her students is another story.
Dunn is now an eighth grade math teacher at Magothy River Middle. She has also taught fifth grade at Cape St. Claire Elementary during her 28-year career.
“The hardest thing about leaving is definitely the kids,” said Dunn. “They have been the same through all the years; I don’t see any change.”
Dunn said whether it was her third graders or her eighth graders over the years, they were all special to her.
“They all just want someone to care about them,” said Dunn.
Dunn’s inspiration was her own third grade teacher, Miss Fennell, when Dunn was growing up in New York City. “She treated us as if we were her own children and I have always tried to do the same with my students,” said Dunn.
Living in Cape St. Claire, Dunn runs into former students often out and about. “Sometimes I yell at them if they are smoking or something,” said Dunn with a laugh. “I still care about how they are doing.”
Teaching runs in the Dunn family. Her husband is a teacher at South River High School (an impressive 42 year career) and her daughter was a teacher at Cape St. Claire Elementary before having her children and moving away. (Her son Brandt Dunn is a teacher's assistant and music therapist at Kennedy Krieger and is a local musician who often performs in the Cape area.)
As she approaches retirement, she only wants one gift and it is not something expensive to place on her mantle. She has asked for a memory book, a collection of memories from her former students to collect and preserve as she begins a new chapter of her life.
Anyone who has been a student of Dunn’s is encouraged to contact Magothy River Middle School Assistant Principal Melissa Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org to share specific memories of times with Dunn. The memory book is currently being prepared for presentation at the end of the school year.
As the end of the school year approaches, Dunn is reflective but takes comfort that this is not an official goodbye. “My son is buying our house and I promised that I would come back some and substitute,” said Dunn. “It certainly makes this transition easier.”