Maryann Daly wrapped up her career as a Huntington School District teacher and administrator last Friday afternoon. She’s officially retired from the classroom and is excited about taking on new challenges.
The longtime Huntington faculty member, her husband, retired NYPD detective Dan Daly and the couple’s Labrador retriever, Jessie are destined for “that perfect log cabin home” in upstate New York. The search is on for the family’s retirement spot, where they plan on joining local organizations and immersing themselves in their new community.
Mrs. Daly has served as Huntington’s SEARCH (Scholastic Enrichment and Resource for the Children) program chairperson-teacher for many years. “I have truly loved this job and leave it knowing I tried my best for the children in my care,” she said. “Huntington has many dedicated people including the custodians, secretaries, food service staff and others who work to support everyone on a daily basis.”
Huntington's SEARCH program chair-teacher
Maryann Daly has retired.
The veteran teacher earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and elementary education at Marymount College and a master of arts degree in early childhood education at Adelphi University. Mrs. Daly also possesses a master of science from Long Island University with a specialization in teaching the gifted and talented. She earned a professional diploma along with administrative certification at LIU.
Prior to coming to Huntington, Mrs. Daly was a sixth grade teacher at Transfiguration School in Tarrytown, New York and taught seventh grade at St. Robert Bellarmine in Bayside, Queens and sixth grade at St. Agnes in Rockville Centre. “One of my students there was none other than Bethenny Frankel, star of the New York Housewives series,” she said.
After aboard the Huntington School District, Mrs. Daly originally worked as a sixth grade teacher at Washington Primary School alongside faculty colleagues with Stanley Grad, Allan Gair and Sue Turner.
“I have never been a traditional teacher, having begun my career teaching in an open classroom setting with tables and rugs on the floor in a very traditional Catholic school in Tarrytown,” Mrs. Daly said. “My principal at the time was one year older than I was so we were a very progressive school.”
Hands-on learning is best
After two years as a regular classroom teacher, Washington Principal Olga Smith encouraged Mrs. Daly to apply for a position with the SEARCH program. “When I became a SEARCH teacher, the children who were going to have me as a classroom teacher came to me now as their SEARCH teacher asking why I had given up teaching,” she recalled. “Teaching to them only meant being in a traditional classroom setting! I taught children the way I myself learned best, which was hands-on learning.”
At the time Mrs. Daly joined SEARCH, the program was being coordinated by Barbara Cullen. The two faculty members worked together for 15 years. “The program covered grades 4 -6 and I traveled to all five elementary schools each week teaching SEARCH and Math Olympiad classes to children,” Mrs. Daly recalled. “Just walking into each building, you felt the energy that existed in each school, with many different personalities existing among the different faculty I had to interact with on a weekly basis. The children were also very different in their abilities, personalities and knowledge of the subject matter. When Barbara retired, I became the coordinator and then chairperson-teacher of the program.”
Mrs. Daly has never regretted her career choice or her decision to join the SEARCH program. “I have spent most of my working life centered on the teaching of children; getting to know them, recognizing their strengths and their fear of failing as well,” she said. “What I have learned over my many years in this terrific program is that the children who excel in academics are many times quite vulnerable, afraid to make a mistake, very self-conscious about how well they answer in class discussions and always wanting to please.”
The veteran teacher has enjoyed her daily interactions with the students she has worked with. “It is so very important to understand that children just want your attention; just want you to hear them and take note of what they feel about many subjects and especially the world around them,” she said. “The class discussions I have had with the many children in my care have always been the best way to develop their minds, to teach them concepts relating to genetics, forensics, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and math problem solving strategies.”
The longtime Huntington educator gave her students everything she had whenever she stepped in front of them. “I have always believed that it was my duty as an educator to bring out of each child the best they could be,” Mrs. Daly said. “After all, self actualization has always been at the top of Joseph Renzulli’s scale. When a child realizes his or her potential and self worth, it is the best we can ask for and expect.”
It will be hard for Mrs. Daly to take her foot off the educational gas pedal that powered her classroom engine through all these decades. She maintained a hectic pace until her final day last Friday.
Nurtured and expanded SEARCH
“I’ve been fortunate to have been in a program like SEARCH; to nurture and expand it and to realize that many children have been enriched by the experiences they shared with me in this multi-faceted program,” Mrs. Daly said. “I have often been asked when I could make up a missed class (due to a holiday) or hear their disappointment when I would announce that next week would be the last week of Search and Math Olympiad classes. Why? Because school was ending for summer vacation! It always amazed me to hear them sound so wounded because they would be missing their SEARCH classes! What a great way to spend my working life. And to have a group of Distinguished Seniors honor me as one of the eight teachers in the district who has made a difference in their educational journey through school was an honor I will never, ever forget and will always treasure.”
Mrs. Daly has found her life’s work to be deeply meaningful. “I have never considered teaching as a job, but as a profession I took very seriously,” she said. “When you are in the business of teaching children, you have to be at the top of your game because every lesson matters and should. I am still in touch with one of my first students (also named Maryann) who I hear from each year. The connections you make with the children you teach are invaluable to both parties. I will often receive emails from former students who are now successful and respected adults.”
Maintaining relationships with SEARCH program alumni has been one of Mrs. Daly’s joys. “Albert Li often writes to let me know how he is progressing in his chief residency in ophthalmology at Northwell Health,” she said. “His plan is to be able to treat retinal detachments, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy among other conditions in the future. Suzie Pomponio, who is a teacher herself in Boston, sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to congratulate me on my retirement. Kerry Roeder, who I had as a student years ago, emailed me to reminisce about what she had learned in the SEARCH program as a Jefferson student. She now shares those lessons with her children. These are just a few of the many children and now successful adults that I will hear from on a regular basis. It’s unexpected and great to hear from them after so many years.”
Mrs. Daly kept her teaching philosophy simple. “You have to pay attention to each child; see them as individuals and respect what they say in class,” she said. “Respect has to be earned and shown and children have to feel that you really care about them. They will then do anything for you.”
It will be difficult for Mrs. Daly to walk away from her faculty position and she has advice for whoever follows her in the SEARCH program. “I have made many longtime and valued friends throughout my 34 years in Huntington; all respected educators who also took this teaching job very seriously and who cared very much about their children,” she said. “Expect the most out of the children, challenge them and support them to be able to meet their challenges. Learning to take risks was always the focus of this program.”
Her wish for education’s future
“My wish is for education to return to a time when teachers and their children have the time to share meaningful discussions with each other about subjects; generate ideas and thoughts about the world they live in and realize the importance of agreeing to disagree if their viewpoints are different from one another,” Mrs. Daly said. “These children are our future leaders and our responsibility to them is great. When they succeed under our care and guidance, so will we. As I always say, a win-win.”
Regardless of where she makes her home in retirement, Mrs. Daly will also have fond memories of the Huntington community, its parents and children and all the support it gave her.
“As much as I have given of myself to Huntington as an educator, I also believe that Huntington has given me their very best; their children,” Mrs. Daly said.
The talented teacher’s final day on the Huntington School District’s faculty “was a little weird; especially the last half hour,” Mrs. Daly said. “You realize that this part of your life is over. What you have been used to doing and loving for many years is coming to an end. So sadness definitely creeps in, but not for too long because you know it is a beginning of another chapter and definitely time to move on.”