Veteran Jefferson Teacher Memorialized as Caring, Dedicated Educator

The Jefferson School community recently unveiled a memorial bench to honor a veteran teacher who passed away in 2017.  “The best teachers are those who make a positive difference in our lives,” said Jefferson principal Dr. Susie Hung.

The Jefferson Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) collected donations to purchase two benches and a beautifully crafted plaque to memorialize Mary Jo Juelis, who taught at Jefferson from 1987 to 2016.

Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan praised Mrs. Juelis as the “consummate professional” whose students were always engaged and who mentored novice teachers as they started their careers.

“And she loved her family,” said Dr. Dolan, as she addressed a crowd of Mrs. Juelis’ family, friends, and colleagues gathered at Jefferson on November 19.  “For all of these reasons, Mrs. Juelis’ legacy continues. We were fortunate that she was a part of our school community and I am very happy to be part of this tribute.”

Juelis’ husband, John, and two of her three sons were on hand for the ceremony as were two of her sisters-in-law. 

“Although I did not personally know Mrs. Juelis, I know she greatly impacted hundreds of students and many colleagues,” said Dr. Hung as she shared a poem by Joanna Fuchs entitled “The Best Teachers.”

Colleague Patricia Merlo heralded the veteran teacher as “always on the cutting edge of education,” saying “many of us here today are who we are because of great role models like Mary Jo.”

Jefferson PTO co-president Caraline Koellhoffer noted that Mrs. Juelis was the type of teacher who looked at each child as an individual and who earned respect from her students.  

Son Mark Juelis said his mother was “always looking for a new way to teach” and he thanked the school community for sustaining his mother “when she needed it most.”

Source: Westfield Public Schools