As someone who had been working since she was 16 years old, Holly Maiorano described herself as “apprehensive” at the thought of retirement. But at the end of the last school year, after 35 years as a teacher and administrator, Maiorano stepped down as principal of Buckley Elementary School in Manchester, Conn., the place where she started her career as a student teacher in 1974.
For Maiorano, who earned a Sixth-Year Certificate from the Neag School in 1983, that career included work as a special education teacher in Windsor, an administrator at the Capitol Region Education Council, and for 17 years in the Manchester school system, the past 11 as principal at Buckley. “Retirement was my idea,” she says. “I was looking for a change, though I’ve told our superintendent that I’m available to help in any way I can.”
That spirit of cooperation, coupled with a positive attitude, has not only guided Maiorano throughout her professional life, it’s also her best advice to new teachers. “They should access every resource at their disposal,” she says. “Veteran teachers, for example, can be a great help in sharing what they know, opening up their ‘bag of tricks’ and demonstrating how to get the best from every student.”
While much has changed in education over 35 years, Maiorano says one thing hasn’t: the idea that all children can learn. “But gone are the days where teachers teach to the group,” she says. “We are more focused now on individual student performance, a more inclusive approach and one that allows each child to make academic progress.”
For new administrators, she counsels patience and compassion in dealing with students, parents and faculty. “I tend to see gray areas,” Maiorano says, “rather than black and white. You can’t draw lines in the sand and expect to be effective. It’s a process that ebbs and flows.”
That may also be true of Maiorano’s retirement. She is ready and willing to work as a “temporary administrator” should a principal or supervisor in her school district — or any district — take a leave of absence or a sabbatical. And she has no qualms about being able to step into a part-time role. “I’m a people person,” she says. “I know I can relate well to students and staff. In my ideal world, being able to stay active in education is the kind of retirement I hope to have.”