Volume 22, Number 06 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 26 - July 2, 2009
Downtown Express photo by Jared T. Miller
Marina Templeton, top right, who is retiring, at P.S. 150’s graduation ceremony last week and with her students at a graduation pool party, right.
Teacher moving to new challenges with her graduating class
By Jared T. Miller
As each fifth grade student approached the microphone during P.S. 150’s graduation ceremonies last Friday, they each had their own favorite memories to share and teachers to thank. But one name was mentioned fondly, again and again: Marina Templeton.
After teaching at the Tribeca school for the past 15 years, Templeton is retiring at the end of this year. Her unique teaching style, as well as her dedication to her students, has made an impression on over a decade of students at P.S. 150, and this years’ class is no exception.
“I can tell my daughter’s confidence has been amped up, her mood has improved, and she really feels excited about learning,” said Kim Rosenfield, 42, of Greenwich Village, whose daughter graduated this year. “I think there’s something about the way Marina treats them like adults that my daughter responded to, and kind of rose to the challenge”
Templeton, 57, first entered P.S. 150 as a substitute teacher, filling in for the library teacher who was then on maternity leave. She was ultimately offered a job to teach first and second grades, and eventually became the small school’s only fifth grade teacher.
Templeton said the Dept. of Education’s increased focus on standardized tests and paperwork was a factor in her decision to retire relatively young. She said the new focus is time-consuming, and detracts from other areas of her job.
“I’m really, really going to miss spending my days with kids,” Templeton said. “The focus on assessment, the focus on paperwork, it takes you out of the really great parts of teaching.”
Templeton will use her time away from the classroom to pursue her interest in botany. She is married and has a daughter who lives in Massachusetts and teaches music. Though she said she is not sure what her own future holds, she is looking into the possibility of taking classes in the area, or finding a job at a nursery.
Over the years, she has gained a reputation for her sarcastic teaching style, but Templeton said the strategy is a useful one.
“I use sarcasm as a face-saving technique for kids when they misbehave,” said Templeton, at a pool party held following the graduation ceremonies. “I think in the end, they much preferred it, and we’ve spent a lot of time laughing.”
And the technique makes for a more personal teaching experience, according to colleague Edward Amber, a Pre-K teacher at P.S. 150.
“She knows them so well and the trust is so great,” said Amber, who has known Templeton since she began teaching at the school 15 years ago. “She can do more than a teacher that keeps her distance can.”
Her students enjoy the approach. Many of her fifth graders said they appreciated how they treated them as mature individuals, though she always had time for a witty remark.
“She’s not like most teachers,” said Thalia Torres, 10, a student in Templeton’s last graduating class. “She treats us like adults.”
“She can cheer people up,” said Beauchamp Baker, 11, as he recounted a favorite story from Templeton’s class trip to Frost Valley, in Upstate New York. “She’s funny at the best times.”
There will be a farewell party held in Templeton’s honor this Thursday. The school hopes to continue the high level of dedication to its students that Templeton embodied after she leaves, according to guidance counselor Rebecca Newfield, who worked closely with Templeton throughout her tenure.
“We’re all gonna miss her terribly,” Newfield said. “We’re just gonna try to keep the standards as high as she set them.”