Guy Stever (click for larger version)
June 20, 2012BERLIN - They say life is about change, and for three Berlin teachers that change started June 15 as they left the jobs they'd had for 15, 34, and 42 years, almost 100 years of combined experience.
All three, Pierre Rousseau, Steve Enman and Guy Stever respectively, had dedicated their teaching careers to Berlin's youth. All three said it was time to retire and they look forward to what's ahead.
Guy Stever has been with the district the longest, 42 years. Although he is not a native of the area–he was born and raised in Belmont, Mass.– he said he believes he spent at least part of every year of his life here. His grandparents had a summer home in Randolph and his parents eventually bought one there as well, in 1960. Many summers Stever worked for the Randolph Mountain Club.
His undergraduate degree was from Colgate College and when it came time to apply for teacher positions, he applied in only two places–Berlin and Gorham.
He said he wanted no part of the city, even though he had grown up just outside of Boston. He was, perhaps, a product of the times, the 1960's, with long hair and a back to the earth mentality.
A summer spent working around a Randolph home when he was just 15 also made an impression on him. The men he worked with were very precise. They gave a full day's work for a full day's pay. If lunch was one-half hour, it was one-half hour.
"I was very impressed by the kind of people in the North Country," he said. "I felt a sense of community here."
So in 1970 he accepted a position with the Berlin School District and never looked back. Well, maybe just once.
At one point his wife went back to school for a law degree and upon graduating they looked at southern New Hampshire as a place with more opportunity for her. He actually had a job offer at John Stark High School in Henniker.
"But as I can home from job interviews and went through Franconia Notch I wondered why would I want to leave here," he said, and so they stayed.
When asked how teaching had changed from 1970 to now, Stever said fundamentally children are children. They still need a pat on the back and acknowledgement when they do something right and they need to know there are consequences when they do something wrong.
There have been changes, of course. There was no Internet back then. The technology today didn't exist. The community was different. It was larger and there was more of a white color element then.
Stever believes there was more of an emphasis on education then. "The expectations were different, the consequences for not doing things were different," he said.
He also believes students in 1970 had less stress than students today. "Youth was more about being young and playing," he said. "Children didn't work so much, didn't have to work to help support their family."
"The changes in education mirror the changes we've seen in society," he said.
Still "adapting and having to change is one of the delightful parts of teaching," he said. "It's been a challenge. We have to figure out new ways to talk to children, to reach them. It's been fun too, keeps you young. I find it very enjoyable learning to understand young people."
So why now, he was asked.
"I've reached that point in my life where a nap after lunch is no longer an option," he joked. More seriously he added, "You have to stop someplace and I turned 65 this summer."
Stever said he will stay involved with the school by staying on as the school sports photographer. He said he would not want to become a substitute teacher, but might consider a temporary position, such as covering a maturnity leave, for an English teacher.
He also hopes to increase time in organizations he's involved with, and there's a lot he's put off doing at the house.
What will he be thinking in September when school starts again?
"What a wonderful ride it's been," he said. "I have no regrets and will look forward to coming back to watch sports and take pictures."
Steve Enman, physical education teacher at the Berlin Junior High, is retiring after 34 years.
Enman is a native of the area, having grown up in Milan, where he still lives and graduating from Berlin High School.
Enman went to UNH for a two year program in forest technology, but before he could do anything further, he was drafted. He decided to enlist in the Navy where he served from 1969 to 1973. After leaving the Navy, he enrolled in Plymouth State and changed his major to physical education, with a concentration in coaching, teaching and recreation.
He did his student teaching at the current junior high, then the high school, and the Burgess School (formerly Notre Dame High School) in the spring of 1976.
At that time there were no opening with the Berlin School District, so he worked a year as Athletic Director at the vocational college (now White Mountains Community College) and another year with the Whitefield Recreation Department.
Then in 1978, the teacher he had student taught with left and he got the position. And here he's stayed for 34 years.
"It's been a good career, but I'm getting a little older," he said.
Enman, 62, decided he wanted to spend more time working on his farm in Milan, where he raises beef and grows hay.
"I decided I wanted just one full-time job, instead of two," he said.
Enman said he is going to sit back a little bit, see what the farm needs and work on it.
Enman said he has nothing but good memories about his years here.
"For the most part, I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I like working with people. I like to see them expand what they're capable of," he said. "The parents have been good. It's been a good community to work with."
Enman said he is appreciative of the opportunities he has had here. In addition to teaching he has coached a number of sports at the junior high and high school level, including football (no longer offered), boys and girls track, basketball and cross country. He also coached several intra-mural sports through the after school program.
"A lot of kids utilize these programs that really need them," he said.
He was Athletic Director for 12 years and even served as Assistant Principal for a year during a reorganization.
Outside of school, Enman was a boy scout counselor for many years helping scouts earn their fitness related badges.
Enman credits the administrations he's worked with for helping with his success.
"Behind every teacher happy with their position, is a good administration," he said, specifically naming Tony Urban, Keith Parent, Don Lafferty, Beverly Dupont, Mike Walsh and Dan Record, as well as his physical education colleguages Ellie Emery, Cindy Hamel and Joe Poulin.
How will he feel come September?
Enman said he looking forward to doing things he hasn't had a chance to do since he left high school.
"I've never had a fall completely to myself ," he said.
Pierre Rousseau has taught drafting at Berlin High School for 15 years, but he came to teaching later than Stever or Enman, having first had another career.
Rousseau first graduated with a degree in mechanical drafting from the community college, then went on to get a bachelor's degree as an industrial engineer from Lowell Technical College.
Although a native of the north country, his father was a French radio announcer, Rousseau spent 18 years working for a computer company in Boston.
He then returned to the North Country, starting a business, Valley Video, in Conway, which he owned for ten and a half years.
While he enjoyed his business, he missed technology. He saw the education field as one that was flexible enough that he could continue his business as well. He said he was going to substitute teach, but then the drafting job came up.
At the time he did not have a lot of teaching experience and was not certified, but he was knowledgeable in the field, learned about teaching as he went along, took courses and got certified. He credits Don Lafferty and Tim Forrestal with helping him with this.
"I worked with good caliber people. It's been a good experience," he said.
For many years he and his wife owned a summer home in Errol and then eight years ago moved there permanently. The commute has been difficult at times, he must get up at 4:30 a.m. in order to get ready and get to work on time. That commute is one thing he won't miss.
He turned 65 this year, is now eligible for Medicare and decided it was time.
"Teaching is a young man's job," he said.
Rousseau said his house, on a lake in Errol, needs more attention and he hasn't ruled out a part-time job a couple of days a week, perhaps even subbing, but only at the Errol Elementary School.
Rousseau said he has enjoyed working with young people.
"They're very creative, very knowledgeable about the latest and greatest thing. It's kept me young," he said.
He'll miss them, he said. "If you don't like kids, you shouldn't be in this job."
He said he'll also miss all the people he works with, whom he described as "very intelligent, high motivated people who bring a lot to their job."
He said he has really appreciated being part of the work of the Career and Technology Center, noting that the Perkins Fund has given the school state of the art equipment "stuff other schools only dream of."