By Roderick W. Durrell
After dinner programs can be boring. But not for the Shelburne High School (SHS) reunion held on July 19 at the Town Offices, formerly the Shelburne Central Grade School and High School. Although all classes were invited to attend, the event was organized to mark the 50th graduation anniversary of the SHS Class of 1964, which was the last graduating class. The program gave graduates the chance to share fond memories, personal stories, and deep appreciation for SHS’s teachers and their effect on students.
At the outset of the teacher recognition program, Rod Durrell ‘62 commented that after SHS closed, the spirit became a part of the fabric of Shelburne history, rather than part of Shelburne’s everyday community life. So, it was appropriate that the walls of the room hosted a re-display of the collection of various historical aspects of Shelburne life that was created for “Shelburne Turns 250,” an effort led by Judy Frazer ’62 in 2013.
Ethel Spear Brousseau ‘64 observed that the three teachers present to be honored all began teaching at SHS in the 1961-62 academic year. She introduced Bernard A. “Bernie” Couture, Robert C. “Bob” Jones, and Doug Tudhope. Durrell read interviews of each of these “new” teachers that were published in the SHS student news magazine, the Spectator, in 1961.
Couture was interviewed in 1961 by Linda Stringer ‘63. He was hired to teach several academic courses and to coach varsity soccer, basketball and baseball. Couture led the SHS basketball team, the “Owls”, to the 1962 Class S tournament championship game in Barre. Although they lost to Groton High, coming out as the runner up was a great achievement.
Jones was interviewed in 1961 by Bonnie MacGregor ‘63. He was a graduate of Richford High School and UVM, and came to SHS to establish a business education curriculum. When SHS closed in 1964, Jones was the first teacher hired at Champlain Valley Union (CVU) High School. He was the department chair for the business education department, and later, the home economics and industrial arts departments. He was on the faculty at CVU for 29 years. Jones said afterwards that “the reunion was a very impressive affair, I was very glad I was able to attend and I had a lot of nice chats with people I had not seen for a long time.”
The Mary Lou Gervia’s ‘63 interview of Mr. Tudhope in 1961 reported that the “sapient” Tudhope had come to SHS from teaching at Richford High School. He was teaching U.S. History, Civics, and Public Policy. Jones surprised the group by telling them that he had been a high school student of Tudhope’s for two years at Richford High before attending college at UVM. It also seemed that Marilee (Foley) McGee, who was on the SHS faculty when the school closed in 1964, must have taught a grade school student Doug Tudhope in the “one room school house in North Hero” when she did her practice teaching. Tudhope went from SHS to teach at South Burlington High School for many years. He established Tudhope Marine and Shore Acres, both in North Hero, and ran for the office of Lieutenant Governor of Vermont.
Couture read comments from his sister-in-law, Betty McDonald Dyer ’55, about her mother, Imelda McDonald, who also was on the faculty in 1964 when the school closed. “Our mother was never happier than when she was in a classroom, whether as a student or as a teacher, and it was her intent, while teaching, to foster in her students the same keen thinking skills and life-long desire for learning that she herself possessed. She not only loved teaching and learning, but she truly loved her students as well – a nice combination, right?”
Betty continued, “I was proud that my mother could teach French and English, and even Latin at one point, but, then, I never had her in high school as my sisters (Jean McDonald Couture, ‘58 and Anne McDonald Houghton, ‘63) did. She was, however, my supervising teacher when I did my student teaching in 1959 at SHS. I learned a tremendous amount about teaching from her that spring, which certainly informed my own 25 years in education afterward. Her message was: Don’t take yourself seriously, but take your students seriously, and have fun! Then, magically they will learn.”
Pick up next week’s edition of the Shelburne News for the second installment of this two-part series that celebrates Shelburne High School’s 50th year with a teacher tribute.