Exuberant sendoff given for Community School nurse and teacher

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Marie Burke and Gail Silva were given a drive-thru retirement party on June 15 at Community School. Dozens attended, including current and former students, colleagues, and family. Staff Photo/Max Bowen
The Fall Festival by North Attleboro Rotary Club
Many of the vehicles in the drive-thru party were decorated with messages wishing Marie Burke and Gail Silva a happy retirement. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

With more than 30 years between them, Marie Burke and Gail Silva have made many connections among the faculty, students, and parents of Community School.

So it was no surprise that dozens turned out for a retirement celebration held on Tuesday, June 15. With COVID-19 still making parties a potential health risk, friends and family made sure that the celebration would go on. Organized by Tara Ward and Sarah Stone, the event included a vehicle parade with decorations and signs wishing the two a happy retirement.

Burke was the school nurse since 2011 and Silva is a Special Education teacher and has been at Community for the last 23 years.

They’re always doing so much for the kids,” said Stone.

Silva said that the decision to retire took some time and she knew her last day at Community would be a tough one. She said the staff at the school have become like family.

This is what we do every single day,” she said.

Vice-Principal Andrew Benharris described Silva and Burke as being the heart of the school, and part of Community would be leaving with them.

We’ll miss them greatly,” he said. “They’re very dedicated. You can’t teach that.”

Burke’s retirement coincided with the birth of her grandchild, and she joked that she’d become a “full-time grandma.” Prior to working at Community School, she was the school nurse at Saint Mary Sacred Heart since 2000.

I think of them as my own kids,” said Burke of the students. “I love this place. It’s a true community.”

The Fall Festival by North Attleboro Rotary Club