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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | 25 Years

25 Years


It’s June 18th, and I have one week left of being a teacher.

Today would have been the end of this school year if it hadn’t been for all the snow.  It’s hard to believe we were actually scheduled to go this late into June – one of those awful school board decisions that makes me grit my teeth.

(Although no mere calendar decision could be as horrible as their recent resolution to fire all our custodians – some of whom have worked for our district for decades – and to hire an outside service to save money, which they’re using to promote several administrators. Yes, they are putting our lowest paid employees out of work and giving raises to the highest paid ones.)

This year has been filled with so many aggravations, disappointments, and outrages, there’s no doubt in my mind I made the right decision to resign. But there have also been wonderful moments with my students, and as I sort through everything in my classroom, I’m dredging up 25 years worth of memories.

Here’s a picture of me with some of my students in my first year of teaching, circa 1989.


First year teacher


The connections I have made with students, parents, and fellow teachers over this quarter of a century far outweigh the bad stuff of recent years. I’ll have plenty of time after the resignation/retirement takes place to write about Common Core, EVAAS, and the deluge of testing. (Yes, I plan to use this blog to explain Why I Had to Leave.)

In my final week, I need to savor the good things.

Here’s a picture of me with some of my students last Saturday at the local library. They came out to celebrate the Summer Reading Kick-off and the release of The Eighth Day.


AG Library w students


My oh-so-critical eye sees every one of the 25 years between the younger me and this one. But even I have to admit the smile is the same. I love my students. I will miss them.

33 Responses to 25 Years

  1. Hilary says:

    Hi Dianne .. well now you’re down to the last days and counting .. even fewer than The Eighth Day?! Happy times and yes the broad beaming smile is the same .. love the two photos .. and lovely the kids came out to support you ..

    Cheers and here’s to freedom .. Hilary

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Thanks, Hilary! Yes, less than 8 days left. I hope I can make good use of the freedom.

  2. Sheri Larsen says:

    Oh wow, Dianne. That is so sad. So often, town/city government finds ways to justify any decision. So sorry this happened as you were heading out of your teaching journey and into another one. I know how much you love those kids. Well, I’ll thank you for your service as a teacher. (Although, I’m sure many of them have over the years.)

    • DianneSalerni says:

      I am outraged over the decision about the custodians. And to turn around and create more administrative positions? Unbelievable!

  3. 25 incredible years. You’ve done amazing things and influences other people for life. No administrator can take that from you. 🙂

  4. Johanna says:

    25 years is an amazing career!! You wouldn’t be the person or writer you are today without it. I’m certain of that. I look forward to reading all the amazing things that are going to come forth now that you’ll have more time to write!

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Johanna — Yes, I know I wouldn’t be the same person without those years. I hope I can do something wonderful with all the years forward from this point.

  5. Amy Mak says:

    Man, I’m happy for you and a little sad you had to leave for the reasons you explained. I’ll be rooting for you though on your literary world tour :)!!

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Thanks, Amy! I’m not sure I would have had the guts to leave right now if I wasn’t so unhappy with the direction education is going. Leaving is a risk, but I know I can’t stay.

  6. Congratulations on your retirement. Bet you’ll take away a lot of great memories.
    Shame about the janitors.

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Alex, I hardly know what to say to them every day. Lots of people spoke up against this decision at the school board meeting, but it was obvious the board had already made up their mind. Deal done behind closed doors.

  7. Julia Tomiak says:

    I only lasted in teaching for one year. It’s such a tough job in a crazy environment. You have my sincere empathy and understanding, and I look forward to your future posts. You’re smart to try and focus on the good stuff – my last weeks in teaching were spent frustrated and angry. Keep smiling and think of the kids.

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Julia — Pretty easy thing to do today. The kids threw me the sweetest retirement party. Lots of smiles.

  8. J E Oneil says:

    You leaving is just further proof that the education system isn’t working. We should be doing things to attract teachers, not make them throw up their hands in frustration. I’m sure your students will miss you, too.

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Jeanne, What politicians are doing to public education resembles the plot of a dystopian novel.

      Maybe I should write it.

  9. I’m so sorry to hear about the custodians. As a young student, I always knew our school custodians by name and that’s something that carried on through my adult years. Seeing the people who clean our buildings and bathrooms and the places our students learn getting treated like that would really irks me, too.

    Speaking of students, it looks like you’ve made a lot of memories and have influenced so many lives as a teacher throughout your 25 years. So, thank you 🙂

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Thanks, Jess! Yes, the students know the names of the custodians. They are beloved in the building — kind, caring, they go out of their way to help kids — and they are members of our community.

      The district sent out an email yesterday proudly listing the new administrative positions. People were moved up to fill them, and other administrators were moved up to fill their previous slots. Lots of promotions and raises all around to our highest paid employees.

      2-3 dozen of our lowest paid employees out of work.

  10. Beate says:

    25 years of teaching is a long time and I’m happy to read that you enjoyed being with your students, their parents and your fellow teachers so much. It sounds like a wonderful time. The recent changes sound awful but somehow changes like these are made everywhere and it’s always only the money that counts – so sad 🙁 I hope you’re having an amazing last week at your school!

    • DianneSalerni says:

      It is sad that only the money seems to count these days — and moving as much of it as possible into the hands of people who already have it. I hope as a writer, I can use my voice to speak out.

  11. Some of the teacher I had back in the Dark Ages were so dear to me and taught me such important lessons about life, they still hold special places in my heart. I have no doubt that you reside in the hearts of many many people who were fortunate enough to be in your class. There’s no doubt that you love the kids; unfortunately, there are far too many teacher who don’t… and who don’t love teaching them. You’ve made a difference, but I understand why it was time to go. It’s heartbreaking about those custodians, but I trust that’s indicative of the trend these day. Savor this last week.

    • DianneSalerni says:

      It makes me sad to think that there are teachers in the profession who don’t belong there. I know so many enthusiastic young people who want to enter the profession, and my heart breaks for how little the profession has to offer them these days.

  12. Gina says:

    This goes to further prove my argument that the education system is flawed.

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Gina, it’s almost a no-win scenario. Leave the education in the hands of the local government, and you might end up at the mercy of small-minded people with personal agendas: revisionist history, book banning, etc. Put control in the hands of a larger government, and you end up with the lowest common denominator and flawed philosophy: ie, children are widgets that can be educated in a factory atmosphere. 🙁

  13. Lexa Cain says:

    I’m so excited and happy for you! You can do anything you want with your writing now – you’re free to explore and not feel so stressed. Woohoo! Retiring’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and I know you’re going to enjoy yours. Congrats!!! 🙂

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Lexa, Right now, it feels like Zeno’s Paradox. No matter how close I get to the end, I still have a measurable distance to go …

  14. Steven Symes says:

    You’re almost free! It’s good that you have some good memories about teaching, because I don’t have really many good memories of the jobs I did before I was a writer. You started in 1989? Weird, I was still in grade school then…

  15. Thanks for sharing the pics, they made me teary-eyed! I think retirement is going to be amazing for you, and your writing career. But I know w/out a doubt you left an impact on your students and that is what’s important. I still have fond memories of my English teacher. If I ever get a book published, I want to send one to her. =)

    • DianneSalerni says:

      Leandra, I found it fitting that in my final year of teaching, one of my students is the grandson of my favorite fourth grade teacher.

  16. Southpaw says:

    Oh this must be a hard week for you! Some jobs are much harder to leave than others.

  17. I was an ESL/Bilingual teacher in the NJ public schools for 5 years before getting my MLS and becoming a YA librarian. I loved my students, but I was so burnt out by the administration. Our students came from the lowest socio-economic demographics and they struggled just to eat, let alone do homework.

    I have no doubt that you made such a difference in the lives of your students and you know they brag to their friends that THEIR teacher is a real-life published author! Congrats on your next adventure.

  18. Robin says:

    I left a comment on your last blog explaining my lack of comment. Sorry!

    Wow. It does seem like the decisions made by the school board worsen all of the time. I know that it will be its own sort of relief to escape that pressure. The kids you will miss… everything else, not so much!

    I love that you shared pics from the beginning and the end. The smile is exactly the same!!!