Retirement is one of many stepping stones in the path of life, and many teachers at Johnson Middle School are taking this significant step. Three extraordinary teachers are leaving this year: Bill Wallace, Mary Ann Baker and Joanne Pretti. All of these teachers have influenced their students greatly and will be missed. This year has not gone as planned, but the Walpole community thanks these hard working teachers for everything they have done to help the Walpole School District and its students!
Mary Ann Baker
After 43 years of teaching, 34 of those in the Walpole School District, Mary Ann Baker is retiring from JMS this year. Baker is currently the band teacher and has had a fulfilling career as a music teacher, influencing many students’ career paths.
To start her incredible journey as a teacher she went to Ithaca College for her Bachelor of Music degree, then studied at State University of New York at Stonybrook for her Master of Music degree in clarinet performance. She has taught fifth and fourth grade music, chorus and band at Fisher school and at Bird Middle School. Baker taught 5th grade band at Elm St. School, and even spent one year teaching kindergarten music at Boyden School.
Not only is she teaching band and general music at JMS, but Baker also runs Jazz Band after school which plays more popular, rock and jazz music. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Baker is giving assignments through “Smart Music,” which allows her to listen to students’ work and give feedback.
“I look forward to spending more time with my husband and my dogs, and we’ll see what comes my way,” Baker said.
For the past 34 years William Wallace has been teaching, 31 of those years were spent in Walpole School District. This year, Wallace is retiring from his position as eighth grade math teacher at JMS. Wallace graduated from Bridgewater State University and then taught three years in the Dedham School District before coming to WPS. Over the course of 31 years in the WPS district, Wallace has taught many subjects and helped many students throughout their school careers.
In Walpole, Wallace taught second, third, fourth grade and then at the middle school taught sixth, seventh and eighth grade as well as being assistant principal. Wallace not only taught, but he also started the dodgeball extracurricular at Johnson Middle School which is still running today.
Wallace believes he does not have one proudest moment, but when he sees former students and they come to him and say really kind things about him and his class, that makes him feel like he has done a good job as a teacher. In retirement, he looks forward to more teaching and is especially happy for more free time with friends and family.
As the end of this year comes close to the end, Joanne Pretti has announced her retirement from teaching. Pretti is currently a moderate special education teacher, primarily for sixth graders, and is also a structured reading teacher.
Pretti received her bachelor’s degree at Lesley University and her master’s degree at Boston College. She now has been in the teaching and education field for 38 years, 13 of those years at JMS. She led many extracurriculars, which include helping homeless pets and leading Battle of the Books teams as a coach. Pretti runs many extensions alongside being a member of the professional development committee.
“As a teacher, I always felt that when a student realizes that he or she is a good self advocate and a confident learner that always made me feel really good,” Pretti said.
Even in the coronavirus pandemic, Pretti is leading google meets and working with the classroom and academic support teachers.
“This is a challenging time for both students and teachers,” Pretti said.
In retirement she looks forward to spending time with family, traveling and wants to pursue hobbies like quilting, sewing and gardening.
The Walpole Public Schools community is so grateful to have had these teachers in the school district and appreciates their positive impacts on the many generations of students, whose learning skills they enriched. Although they will not be present next year, they will all be remembered as an amazing part of the staff.