After a half century, Remsen retires from teaching
Norm Remsen has been a familiar face in New Milford public schools for 43 years.
The longtime industrial arts teacher at Schaghticoke Middle School retired at the close of the school year Wednesday.
Remsen’s teaching career overall spanned 51 years, 43 invested in the students at Schaghticoke.
He is the last of the middle school’s original teachers from the early 1970s.
“Seeing the satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment on a student’s face, or when they successfully complete a step in a task” has been one the most rewarding parts of his career, Remsen said this week.
He cited his positive experiences working with students of all skill levels in the metal- and wood-working shops, as well as with staff and administration, throughout his career.
While some teachers experience the urge to move on to other districts, not so Remsen.
“I’ve never had an inkling of moving out of the New Milford school system,” he said.
Remsen welcomed students and teachers each morning with a “smile” and a greeting as he performed traffic duty, according to Schaghticoke’s principal, Dana Ford.
Once school would begin, he would don his blue shop coat and get to work.
SMS computer scheduler Janet Roache met Remsen at church 30 years ago.
She and Remsen both started at Schaghticoke the year it opened: she as a student, Remsen as a teacher.
“He’s like the salt of the Earth,” said Roache, who has worked at Schaghticoke for 10 years. “He really is.
“As a person, he is extremely giving and always has your back. As a teacher, he will do whatever it takes to get a child to succeed. He just has a gift.”
Remsen has taught thousands of students, many of whom still comment on the projects they made while in his class when they see him out in the community.
“They say ‘I still have that wall lamp I made in your class, but the socket is broken,’ ” Remsen said.
“I remind them that the lamp comes with a lifetime warranty, and I tell them I’ll fix it.”
In addition to his teaching career, Remsen has also been also known in the region for teaching driver’s education classes.
Since then, he has taught driver’s ed at a commercial driving school, Carla’s Driving School, in Middlebury, until it was sold to All-Star Driver. Overall, he instructed driver’s ed for 45 of the 51 years of his school teaching career.
Ironically, when Remsen sought a job with All-Star Driver’s New Milford office, one of his former students, Chris Novello, regional manager, hired him.
“He has a good personality,” Novello said “and a great heart.”
It should come as no surprise Remsen has taught multiple generations in the classroom and behind the wheel.
Remsen has enjoyed teaching, he said, but decided to retire after a conversation with a student, who pointed out he taught her grandmother to drive.
“That clinched it,” Remsen said.
In retirement, Remsen will continue teaching driver’s ed.
He said he also looks forward to spending more time with family and helping his daughter, Dawn, fulfill her dream of opening a bakery.
He taught metal working for about 20 years and then shifted his focus to woodworking when longtime teacher Pete Messer retired from the woodworking shop.
“Over the years, Norm has taught many students how to use woodworking tools and saws, to collaborate on projects, and the importance of classroom safety regulations,” Ford said.
“Students have left SMS carrying beautiful wind chimes, bird houses, and tic tac toe boards,, which they created in their industrial arts classes.”
“We at Schaghticoke wish Norm a bright and relaxing retirement,” she summed up.
Staff hosted a retirement party for Remsen earlier this month. Former colleagues Donald Fiftal, Brian McDonald, JoAnn Peterson-Calarco, Robert Brown and Gary Barker were among those to attend the festivities.