OGDENSBURG — For 25 years, Dorothy “Dot” Farrell has been a stable, comforting sight for kindergartners as they attend Grant C. Madill Elementary School for the first time.
But the 2021-22 school will be different for those attending Madill. After 32 years of teaching, Farrell will be retiring at the end of the school year.
“I will miss coming to school every day,” she said during an interview in her kindergarten classroom.
Approximately 500 kindergartners have been taught by Farrell over the last two and a half decades and she often hears “Mrs. Farrell” from former students when they see her in public. It brings a smile to her face every time, she says.
After graduating from North Syracuse Central School, she attended Syracuse University and graduated in 1984 with a double major in education and early childhood development. After marrying Timothy Farrell, the couple moved to the North Country and began raising a family. When her children became a little older, she began teaching at St. Mary’s Academy, Canton, in 1989. Her first class was a half-day kindergarten class. The following year it turned into a full year.
Then in 1991, Farrell joined the Ogdensburg City School District, teaching first-grade for five years at Madill School before switching to kindergarten, a level she taught at for the next 25 years.
“I love kindergarten. Although the curriculum has changed, the program has continued to evolve. I really enjoy being with the children when they enter school and then I watch them grow and develop through their years here and that’s probably my favorite part of teaching kindergarten,” she said.
Now some of those kindergartners that she has taught have children attending Madill School while others are beginning to work there. It’s a welcome sight, according to Farrell.
“Now some of the children I taught in kindergarten are subbing for the district and when they come in its really great to see how they developed,” she said.
Hired by Pat Washburn in 1991, Farrell said that she has had some wonderful principals who have helped and supported her over the years. Principals like Tim Vernsey, Deborah Hannan, Paula Scott and currently Amy DiSalvo.
“I have really enjoyed my time here. The Madill staff and faculty ... they’re wonderful. In fact, that is what I will miss the most I think,” she said.
She enjoyed working at Madill because it was what she called a “nice sized school.” It wasn’t as small as the former Sherman or Lincoln elementary schools but also not as large as John F. Kennedy so you can get to know almost all of the students, according to Farrell.
Looking forward to retirement, Farrell and her husband will travel once COVID-19 travel restrictions let up. They will also be able to spend more time with their three young grandchildren.
“We love to spend time with family,” she said.