A semicolon, not a period

Published 10:19 pm Saturday, June 7, 2014

When the doors close behind students at Florence Bowser Elementary School on Friday, there will be one faculty member for whom it all seems a bit more momentous.

Teachers and administrators nearly always experience the day with conflicted emotions. They have spent the entire year getting to know — and in many cases, coming to love — the young charges with whom they have spent so much time during the previous nine months or so, and it can be hard to let them go. But there are summer plans to enjoy, and the knowledge that there is another set of students to come in September helps create a sense of expectation to ease the transition.

For one Florence Bowser faculty member, though — and for her colleagues — the end of school this year might feel more like a period than a comma.


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Florence Marrone will retire at the age of 85 this month. The teachers’ assistant is the school system’s eldest employee, and she has worked or volunteered for Suffolk Public Schools for nearly 25 years.

Do the math, and you’ll notice that Marrone began working in the school system when most folks are starting to think about retirement. She became interested in working with students when she and her husband moved to Suffolk from Long Island.

Marrone has worked with children in kindergarten and first grade during her tenure in Suffolk, and she loves reading to them. Education, she told a reporter this week, has given her life purpose, especially since the death of her husband in 2011.

Considering her long career, one might expect Marrone to look at retirement at the age of 85 as her chance to finally take it easy. But she plans to continue volunteering in the classroom when the school year starts again. So maybe that period will be more like a semicolon, after all.

People like Florence Marrone are a treasure, and thousands of Suffolk students and adults are better for having experienced their first years of school with her in the classroom. We wish her all the best in her retirement.