Retirement: Rebecca Block

By Justin Quinn
Published: June 2010

After 34 years of teaching at Newton South, Spanish teacher Rebecca Block will be retiring at the end of the year.
Block started her teaching career at South after gradating from Simmons College, but had prior experience with the school while still in college.

“I was a student teacher at Newton South from January to May of 1976, Block said. “In May and June, I substituted in various junior high schools in Newton.

“One student climbed out the window while I was teaching. In another class, they were throwing erasers at me.

But Block was not discouraged and went on to become a full-time teacher at the start of the 1976- 1977 school year, quickly becoming a friendly, familiar face for students in the world Language wing of the school.

Junior and former student of Block Sophia Zarsky especially attests to Block’s warm personality.

“Ms. Block was one of the nicest teachers I’ve ever had, Zarsky said. “Going to her class was always fun and exciting¦I learned so much from her.

Block has been drawn to the Spanish language since her teenage years. It was then when she developed an interest in learning more.

“I worked in my father’s law office throughout high school and college. Many of his clients were from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba, Block said.

Block’s experience in Spanish continued to grow as she discovered more and more about the language.

“I didn’t start traveling to Spanish- speaking countries for any length of time until college, but it felt very natural to teach Spanish, as a result of my exposure growing up and in college, Block said, looking back on her progression.

“It’s never boring, and one can always learn something new.

And Block’s passion for teaching is not new. “I loved school. I always wanted to teach, have my own classroom, and my own red pens, she said.

Now, Block has accomplished this during her time at South, achieving her goal and becoming a memorable part of Newton South’s history.

Since 1976, she has seen South go through many changes and although she holds many bold memories of the school, Block looks back fondly to near the beginning of her career.

“I feel more nostalgic for the years when Newton South was a smaller school and most faculty members knew each other, Block said.

“I remember when Van Seasholes, the principal, would come by every classroom on the Friday before every vacation and wish us a good holiday.

While teaching, Block formed strong connections with her students, an element of class that students appreciated and will miss as she retires.

But Block enjoys spending time with children and plans to in the future after leaving South.

“I’d like to continue working with students in some capacity, either tutoring and/ or mentoring, Block said.

But when asked what she will miss most about South, Block responded “My students, who always make me laugh.

And students at South are sad to see her go as well. “I will miss seeing her around the school, Zarsky said.

“It’s a shame future students won’t be able to learn from her like I did.

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