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She’s not the retiring type, even after 50 years

Published: April 6, 2010

By Sue Scheible
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Apr 06, 2010 @ 04:12 AM

Joyce Young was scarcely out the door on her last day as a full-time teacher at the Ross School when several other teachers stopped her.

“We hope you can come back next year as a substitute,” they said.

Young hadn’t given that prospect much thought. She’d already taught for 45 years in Braintree, 43 of those at the Ross Elementary School. At age 73, that was a lot longer than many veterans.

But the following September, there she was again, “Miss Young,” a friendly, familiar face in the classrooms at the neighborhood school, which was built in 1951.

That was five years ago. Now 78, Young is a substitute teacher two or three days a week, filling in in grades 1 through 5. Some of her pupils are the children of students she taught 20 to 30 years ago.

“The fact that Joyce knows the students and the curriculum means they aren’t missing a lot when the regular teacher is out,” said Donna Bonarrigo, the school’s principal. “They can continue learning effectively. She’s wonderful ? an expert teacher ? and she understands children and how they learn.”

Young says simply, “I enjoy the children.”

It was mid-morning on a recent Thursday. She was in Mrs. Fletcher’s first-grade classroom, and as recess ended, she used her firm voice, straight posture and gentle taps on a few shoulders to set the mood for a test.

“I’m waiting for quiet, polite people,” she said.

In a conversation about her career, she soon mentions that a love of teaching was ingrained early. Her mother taught for many years in Kinnelon, N.J.

In fifth grade, Young recalled with a chuckle, “I would come home from school, stand in front of the fireplace and make believe the living room was full of students and practice teaching. I guess it’s all I ever wanted to do.”

Young attended a rural, three-room schoolhouse with three grades in a classroom. When she was in the fifth and sixth grades, the principal would ask her to fill in if he could not find a sub for the lower grades.

On the final day of school last year, a second-grader ran up to her and said, “Miss Young, promise me you’ll never retire from subbing.”

Dr. Peter Kurzberg, Braintree’s school superintendent, said the town has a number of retirees who come back to substitute. But Young’s age does make her unusual, and he said, “she does a wonderful job.”

She has no plans for her final retirement, but she does have other interests. A 1953 graduate of Eastern Nazarene College, she is director of the college’s Women’s Organization, and the group is busy year-round making craft items for three boutique sales. All of the profits are put toward student scholarships.

Reach Sue Scheible at, 617-786-7044, or The Patriot Ledger, P.O. Box 699159, Quincy 02269-9159. Read her Good Age blog on the Patriot Ledger website.



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