Remember Your 2nd Grade Teacher? Coleytown El Grads Sure Do!

Some of us remember key teachers in our lives.

Usually they’re from high school. Occasionally, middle high.

Elementary school teachers seldom get the love and respect they deserve. We were too young to appreciate them. Often, we forget their names.

Nancy Saipe is not one of those people.

This summer — just before her Staples High School Class of 1971 held its 50th (plus COVID 1) reunion —  she hosted a lunch honoring her 2nd grade teacher, Nicky Bleifeld.

Nancy and several other Coleytown Elementary School classmates from 1960-61 — still friends, half a century later — reminisced about Mrs. Bleifeld’s impact on them.

She was there too — in good health and great spirits. It was a wonderful afternoon, for the former teacher and her (now almost-contemporary) former pupils.

Coleytown Elementary School.

But that’s only part of this story

To honor Mrs. Bleifeld, the women made a donation to the current 2nd grade classrooms at Coletown El. The funds will purchase books for the students.

But that’s still not the end.

On Tuesday, Nancy Saipe — and Nicky Bleifeld — visited CES, the current 2nd graders and their teachers.

Nicky Bleifeld with current Coleytown Elementary School 2nd grade teachers (from left): Melanie Tribe, Abby Miraballes, Caitlin Spisso and Alyssa Carroll. On the wall behind are welcome notes, written by the children.

Principal Janna Sirowich began by reading “Things I Learned in Second Grade” to the students. Then came questions.

The youngsters wanted to know what Coleytown was like, back before some of their grandparents were even born. For example:

  • Did you have a Smartboard in your classroom? (No. They didn’t even have computers! This really surprised the children.)
  • How many students were in your second-grade class?  (30 — wow!)
  • How many recesses did you have each day? (2 — the same same as now.)
  • What subjects did you teach?  (Math, Reading, Current Events, Science)
  • Did you have Field Day? (Yes)

 

The rear view of Coleytown Elementary School, before expansion and modernization.

Principal Janna Sirowich says, “The students and staff were enthralled as they listened to Mrs. Bleifeld and Mrs. Saipe talk about Coleytown. They had such detailed and positive memories to share.

“Mrs. Saipe also encouraged the students to treasure their friendships and their teachers. She spoke about the lasting impact that Mrs. Bleifeld had on her as a student, reader, and friend, and how she remembers these lessons today.”

A photo for the ages: Coleytown Elementary School 2nd graders with former teacher Nicky Bleifeld (right). Current teachers are in the back; Nancy Saipe is seated, far right.

The CES staff presented Mrs. Bleifeld with a Coleytown bag, t-shirt and stuffed animal — and an open invitation to visit Coleytown anytime.

“It was a heartwarming experience,” Ms. Sirowich adds. “We are so grateful to Mrs. Bleifeld and Mrs. Saipe for visiting our community.”

29 responses to “Remember Your 2nd Grade Teacher? Coleytown El Grads Sure Do!

  1. This was such a fun and interesting meeting for our kids. Thank you to both women and Janna Sirowich for organizing this and for our classroom gifts. CES is definitely a place come back to!

  2. What a wonderful story! I had known about the lunch—or I think there might have been even a couple of lunches for Nicky Bleifeld arranged by Nancy over the past few years—but I didn’t know this was happening. I’m a firm believer in honoring and thanking those who had a real impact on your life while they’re still with us.

    And what a great educational experience for the kids.

    Finally, hat’s off to Principal Sirowich and her staff for accommodating this. They were equally gracious seven years ago in allowing Nancy and some others in our CES class of ‘65 to do a mini-reunion/tour at the school on the 50th anniversary of our graduation—a gathering that turned out to be especially poignant.

  3. Coleytown Elementary forever! Miss Ginty (kindergarten) Miss Pasten, 1 Mrs Wolfson 2, Mrs. Hall 3, Mrs Friedman (my country was Yugoslavia as my 5 page, 4th grade term paper written in cursive) Miss Belz 5, and Mr. Nicholson 6. For 5th and 6th grade we left the room for subjects with the other two teachers math and social studies. I had Mr. Donofrio for social studies and we had a huge project on civil rights where we had to prepare a debate about civil rights. Miss O’Dell was our principal. Miss Miller was Gym. We had the coolest playground . I actually think most think people have crystal clear memories of elementary school experiences. Those classmates are also seared into my memory… much more so than high school classmates at Staples.

  4. Wonderful. ♥️

  5. Great story, Dan. But no surprise to meI I remember my elementary school teachers more than those from high school. Probably because they were more fun. I also worked at GFS and meet young adults (up to 33) around town that I worked with, such as Will Haskell, and they remember me and most of my colleagues. I think teachers today, at least here in Westport, go so far and above what they are required to do that who wouldn’t remember each and everyone for something extra and special that they did for their “kids”
    We are extremely lucky to live here.

  6. I started Kindergarten in 1952 at Greens Farms School. I remember Miss Spencer, Mrs. Hoganower ( I’m sure spelled incorrectly,) Mrs Asquith and Mr.Jack. The Principal was in her last and Mr. Ready came in 1953. I can’t think of her name now, but my father had her in the 1920s.

    • I just remembered the name of the Principal who retired after the 1952-53 school year- Mrs.Leary. Wow, 70 years ago. Am I really this old?

  7. Such a great post. I am a Coleytown kid as well. Mrs. Crews, Miss Spencer (1st and 2nd grade), Miss Miller, Mrs. Friedman, and Mr. Donofrio. I have visited several times over the years but have lost touch with those that had an incredible impact on my “Wonder Bread” years! The drinking fountains (if they still exist) were so low to the floor I could not bend over! Mr. Finn was our Phys. Ed. Coach. I learned how to tie my shoe in Kindergarten, cursive in 5th grade. Such a great childhood in a school system second to none. All us kids (Coleytown, Long Lots, Bedford) are so fortunate to have grown up in this community.

    • Michael, I had Miss Spencer and Mr. Finn at Greens Farms School between 1953 and 1957. Anyone know where Miss Spencer is now, if she’s alive? Anyone have a picture of her? I really liked her.

  8. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Such fond memories!!!

    As a Greens Farms School kid I never knew the wonderfully described Ms. Bleifeld. I did know Mr. Ready and Mrs. Hogenauer (name spelled correctly, Jack Backiel).

    As a naturally woke Westporter, I constantly seek the truth, however unpleasant. I contacted the Westport Museum of History and Culture to double check the recollections contained in this posting.

    According to a source at the museum (who offered to sell me a cookbook as reparations), the childhood memories have been debunked by the museum’s researchers. They are the result of hallucinogenic drugs students ingested while attending Staples in the 1960’s.

    The unpleasant truth is that Westport children Staples High School athletes and scholars were exploited as busboys/dishwashers to the ruling class restauranteurs in Saugatuck.

    Those who were not subject to seasickness were sent to work at Chubby Lanes down at Compo. But Westport children of that era were not carefree. They celebrate Festivus to this very day.

    • Eric, Thanks for the spelling correction! (My spelling was corrected many times at Greens Farms School.) Also, Eric, if one didn’t drink their milk at lunch, Mr. Ready wouldn’t allow you to go to recess. He monitored how much lunch one ate too.

      • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

        Jack, Mr Ready was an interesting guy. I tended to be overweight as a kid. Mr. Ready would enforce “clean your plate and drink ALL your milk” without considering that most kids had a life outside of school. He had a day of reckoning when Dr. Lebhar found this out and put a stop to it.

        • I still remember being sent to Mr. Ready’s office terrified of the consequences! He was a NO NONSENSE Principal. Then I went to Long Lots and “graduated” to Mr. Koehler’s office! I knew that office like the back of my hand. LOL. That’s when Ms. Stein told my parents to take me out of school at age 16 and have me attend a trade school to become a plumber or carpenter. Like I mentioned once, if my parents listened to her, I’d be cleaning toilets at an Exxon gas station today! I ended up with a Masters +15 credits.

  9. great story and thanks to Nancy for organizing. I wanted to be there for that and the reunion but my schedule would not allow it.

  10. Thank you Nancy for organizing and honoring Mrs Bleifeld. What a thrill for her. After living in Colorado for 13 years, I ended up back in Westport. Against all odds we bought a home just a few miles from my childhood home so my kids went there as well. It must have been so much fun to go into the classroom with the current class and share our history.

  11. Carl Addison Swanson, '66

    Ms. Small for 2nd, to be Coach Paul Lane’s charming wife.

    • Carl Addison Swanson, '66

      P.S. Wolfson for 4th. And then, with the infinite wisdom of the Board of Education, they restricted those north of North and west of Cross to Bedford Elementary, the town hall now where I had Mrs. Weigel (wife of the musical icon) who spent the entire year trying to adjust to contact lenses causing her to cry every day in class. But it was downtown and the “Y” after school. Old Westport rocked.

  12. Nice story. I definitely rely have remember by teachers from Coleytown Elementary/Middle. 1-Crews, 2-Spencer, 3-Hanulak, 4-Danielson, 5-Shaw. I love that these people took the time to reach out. Ten years ago I reached out to find Mr. Hanson (history and history club at CMS) and we corresponded for over 10 years.

  13. When my mother started teaching at Coleytown in 1953, she had 38 (that’s no typo) little boomers in her class!

  14. THIS is why we moved to Westport.

  15. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    Back in the 60’s I had Mrs. Dorothy Hall for second grade at the ‘real’ Saugatuck Elementary School. She was great and a couple years ago I reconnected with her and her husband Gordon (also a Westport teacher); they still live in Westport and are doing very well. There were so many memorable educators at Saugatuck, Bedford Junior High (on Riverside Ave), and of course Staples. Fun article Dan, thanks.

    • We lived across the street from Dot and Gordon for more than 20 years. They were wonderful neighbors and we still chat from time to time.

  16. Ok Westporters, here’s a question for you. At Greens Farms School between 1953 and 1958, there was a teacher named Mr.Jack. All the kids knew he had a “crush” on a teacher named Ms Teeves. ( Eric, I know I spelled her name wrong. Help me out here.) Ms. Teeves broke her leg and wore a cast. I do remember that. I think they got married to each other. Anyone remember them?

  17. I absolutely LOVE this story!

  18. Wonderful post, Dan! I have no clue how you people remember your elementary school teachers. For the life of me I cannot remember my 4th or 5th Grade teachers. I did have Mr. Donofrio for one class in 5th Grade but he wasn’t my homeroom teacher. It was a woman. Does anyone remember Mrs. Resco (3rd Grade Teacher at Coleytown? She was a great teacher but haven’t heard her name mentioned ever. Someone mentioned Mr. Hanson from CJrH. I had him for 7th Grade History. He was a wonderful teacher. I always squinted when he walked by as it looked so painful. Does anyone know if he’s still alive?

  19. Carl Addison Swanson, '66

    No idea on Hanson, but Mrs. Resco, bless her heart, was my 4th grade teacher at Coleytown and the proud mother of Bill Resco, ’64, who was an exceptional football player on an exceptional team. I believe she has died.

  20. Mr. Lord and Mr. Marshall from Long Lots- there’s two names for you. Also, I remember in 1961, it may have been in the spring, there was a famous execution that was happening at 11:00 am. All the kids secretly made a plan to drop their books on the floor at that exact moment the execution was happening. I remember the teacher was shocked at the noise that was made! I think it was at 11:00 am. sharp we did that.

  21. Kesselman Pamela

    Lovely story and event. Hats off to Nancy Saipe for organizing and recognizing her former teacher and friends. These ties are
    influencing and encouraging. Bravo!

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