Educators, staff recognized for decades of service

Apr 25, 2024

As successive classes of students have entered and graduated from Wareham Public Schools, teachers, caregivers and other staff members have stayed and given their careers to support the schools’ educational experience. The Wareham School Committee recognized the service of 36 staff members during Recognition Night on Thursday, April 25. 

Middle School Principal Tracie Cote said working at the school “is not just working, it is working with friends who have become family.”

“That is why all of these retirements are so difficult tonight,” said Cote. “You see how very important each staff member is to the overall success of our building and why working at Wareham Middle School, Wareham in general, is such a wonderful place to work.”

Here are the people who were recognized.

20 years of service

Bethany Chandler joined the school district in August 2004 and currently serves as Wareham Elementary School Principal. “Dr. Chandler is a dedicated, compassionate and intelligent building administrator. When you enter Wareham Elementary School, you can feel the positive energy as enthusiastic and happy students walk the hallways,” said Superintendent Matt D’Andrea. 

First-grade teacher Katherine Harunk joined the school district in August 2004. Harunk organizes an annual event where each of her students dresses as one of the Presidents of the United States and recites a speech. 

Barbara MacElhiney joined Wareham Middle School in February 2004, and worked her way to the position of head custodian. “Barbie is always willing to do whatever it takes so that our school environment is a beautiful building for students to grow and learn,” said a school administrator. 

Pamela Krystofolski joined the school district in April 2004 and serves as a cafeteria worker. A school administrator said Krystofolski has been one of the district’s top performers and has given her literal “blood, sweat and tears” to the district while performing her duties. 

Several 20-year staffers were not present during the recognition event: paraprofessional Lynn Peterson, teacher Michelle Skolnik, teacher Jessica Andrews and teacher Elizabeth Houde.  

30 years of service

Scott Paladino joined the district in February 1994, and currently serves as Wareham High School Principal. He has contributed in other ways as well including as a coach for the football and track programs. “It is evident that he cares deeply about our students and beliefs strongly and our ability to have a positive impact on their lives,” said D’Andrea. 

Nurse Sheila Braley joined the district in March 1994. “She's always smiling, happy and cheerful until there is a serious medical episode,” said Chandler — and once there is a medical episode, Braley is able to enforce ultimatums to keep her patients healthy, Chandler added. 

Richard Paling joined the district in October 1994, after graduating as a Viking himself from Wareham High School, and teaches physical education. Chandler praised Paling’s bravery and his competitive nature. 

Patrick Roche teaches and serves as a department chair of the ELA department, having joined the district in August 1994. A motto throughout his time at Wareham Elementary School has been to “say yes to children, as much as possible,” something which Chandler said stuck with her from her first days as a substitute teacher. 

Charles Dyer joined the district in October 1994. “He is a special education teacher who is also certified in mathematics, and it’s very unusual to have someone like that in your building,” said Palladino. Dyer is a senior member of the special education department and has also coached soccer for the school. 

Lisa Ohman joined the district in August 1994, and is a veteran foreign language teacher. Palladino said she “commands respect from her students,” she helps as a union representative and as a mentor to new foreign language teachers and she attends “numerous events to support our students outside the classroom.”


Joan Seamans retired in December 2023 after 22 years in the district and 37 in education. She previously served as principal of Hammond Elementary School, East Wareham Elementary School and Forest Elementary School. “She has always been a model of professionalism and hard work and she has an extraordinary attention to detail,” said D’Andrea. 

Anne Marie Fillion retired in September 2023, having begun her career in special education in 1987. She has worked for the past 20 years in preschool, both as a leader within the department and as a teacher. 

Dori Kais will retire in June 2024 from her role as a teacher with the district. Chandler said she takes a lot of advice from Haetinger, who reminds her the students are the school’s clientele — “This is who we are here for every day… and that’s the attitude that Dori comes in with.”

Art teacher Nancy Newton has served in the district for 19 years and will retire in June 2024. Chandler said Newton is “an amazing educator, friend, colleague and she brings so much more to the table than any professional artist I’ve ever met.”

Michelle Sampson has served for 21 years in Wareham Public Schools and will retire in June 2024. Sampson uses every minute of the educational day for instruction, according to Chandler. “In Michelle’s retirement, I hope you don’t use the clock anymore [and] still continue to do your yoga and all of the outdoor activities that you enjoy.”

Psychologist Karen Whritenour was honored both for thirty years of service with the district, having joined in August 1994, and for her approaching retirement, to occur June 2024. “She’s calm and captivating and provides support, reason for students, families and staff,” said Chandler. 

Susan Atkins retired in Feb. 2024 from her position as a school nurse with the Middle School, having started there in January 1996. “She coined the phrase, ‘You have no fever, go back to class.’ I believe our students just wanted to see her and hear that phrase,” said Principal Tracie Cote. 

Elaine Johnson retired in the summer of 2023 from her position as a secretary with the Middle School, “She was always willing to do whatever was needed in order to support our school and ensure our students have what they needed,” said Cote. “No one will ever fill Elaine’s shoes.”

Marilyn Hackett was recognized for her retirement and for thirty years of service, having joined the district in Jan. 1994 and being set to retire June 2024. “She has worked tirelessly to support the staff, students and families of Wareham. She has built such strong relationships with families and her colleagues over the years,” said Cote. 

Teacher Thomas Johnston will retire in June 2024. Johnston came to the High School when the eighth grade class moved there in 2018, and Paladino said he has been “a tremendous asset” since he came over. 

Michele Letourneau, Leigh Marerro, Patricia Panzone, Christine Sylvester, Jo-Anne Gibbs, Robin Murphy, Susan Akins, Martha Schnorbus, Toni Thatcher, Eileen Frazier and Ann Weiss were not present at the recognition ceremony.