Home Medford News Three decades of teaching, instilling a love of reading come to a...

Three decades of teaching, instilling a love of reading come to a close

34 years in a district she loves, comes to a close for Dawn Saporito as she tearfully says "good bye."

Kirby’s Mill Elementary School teacher Dawn Saporito is ready to close out her years as an educator in Medford. (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

Kids who walk through the doors of Dawn Saporito’s class walk out with at least one achievement: A love of reading instilled by their teacher.

Described as a stellar employee by Medford Township Public Schools Superintendent Joe DelRossi, Saporito has spent 34 years in the school district, seven as a first grade teacher, 27 in the second grade.

Dawn I have to tell you guys, this is truly bittersweet for us,” DelRossi said at the Feb. 24 board of education meeting. “I’m glad you have your health, you put in a number of years, you’re well-respected here.”

Saporito’s retirement on July 1 was approved at the meeting.

Her tenure in the district exposed the teacher to nearly three generations of second grade students, all of whom she described as loving, kind and hard-working. Saporito remarked  on her admiration of the administration, principals and staff for being willing to try new things.

The 58-year-old started at Haines 6th Grade Center — originally a primary school —  teaching first grade, where she addressed students’ interest in expanding their vocabularies, literacy and writing.

I was asked to move to second grade, and then I didn’t want to, but I started to love second grade,” Saporito shared.

When Kirby’s Mill became the newest elementary school in Medford, Saporito took the opportunity to transfer there because it was closer to her home, where she was easily able to care for her son.

Holding back tears at the board meeting, the teacher talked of her love for bonding with  students through reading, joking her new Amazon membership meant expanding her in-class library.

Parents often informed her of a child’s dislike for reading, but Saporito never backed down from the challenge of reversing that. Stories of kids bringing home books brighten her days.

The start of each school day in Saporito’s classroom entails a short worksheet and a morning meeting where kids share what they are looking forward to during the week, including clapping games and sign language.

Ending the school day can be complicated, what with early children’s pick-ups, specials or assemblies students must attend, so Saporito brings the day to a fun, yet calming end.

We (will) sometimes play a game,” she explained. “We will play ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and some days I’ll let them do ‘I Spy’ if I let them sit on the floor. Some days I read to them, so there’s usually some sort of reading involved in it.”

Teaching for as many years as Saporito has means she has taught children of fellow students several times. She seized those opportunities as a way to connect with the sprout who may be apprehensive about school.

Making connections with the kids no matter what time, they want to learn and they want to be loved,” she noted. “They want to be listened to, they want to feel that people care about them and that’s what remained the same.”

The educator is younger than what many assume would be her retirement age, but she explained that retirement is ageless: It can be a feeling one gets when he or she is tired and contemplates another calling.

For Saporito, that means trading the demands of teaching to prepare her home for the  the care of her 81-year-old mother. But the last day of school will be difficult.

I’m a big reader and my legacy so to speak is getting kids to read,” she said during the meeting as she again fought tears. “They love each other and love it.

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