Two Local Teachers Added to Educators Hall of Fame

Judith Hillner and Gerald Sanford were honored for their decades of service to North Andover schools.

Retired North Andover teachers Judith Hillner and Gerald Sanford have been named by the School Committee as this year's inductees to the Educator Hall of Fame.

Established in 2009, the Educator Hall of Fame recognizes exemplary teachers in North Andover who have inspired and challenged their students.

Nominees of the award must be retired from teaching for at least five years, provided leadership in raising academics, and be recognized as an academician who consistently sets very high standards, among other qualifications.

School Committee Vice Chair Christine Allen led the inductees reception at by speaking about the lives of both recipients.

Sanford, who came to North Andover as an English teacher, has been a devoted and zealous teacher for 35 years at North Andover High School and has served seven years as a chair.

Hillner, who has been a teacher for 31 years, arrived in North Andover as a fourth grade teacher. She has continuously challenged herself and has served as a master teacher for the district.

Students shared how effective both Hillner and Sanford’s teaching skills have been through letters.

Teacher Kathleen Bresnahan described Hillner as a gifted teacher and very humble.

“She dedicated her time and knowledge to the students,” Bresnahan wrote.

Teacher Bob Bennett wrote that he can't recall a single unkind remark that Sanford has ever said or did.  

Both were described as among the best of the best.

Speaker Susan Baylies is a teacher at Atkinson Elementary School and is the one who nominated Hillner. Baylies, who met Hillner when she was a fourth grade teacher and still has a salt water tank as a token of her legacy, said said that many people have influenced her teaching, but the most influential was Hillner. She described Hillner as not only a wonderful teacher, but a mentor as well.

Recently retired teacher Paul Gregiore said that he has known Sanford since 1977 when he came to teach at North Andover High School. He described why Sanford qualified for the award and why he was one of the many that nominated him.

"He is compassionate... he treated the kids and adults with compassion,” Gregiore said.

As more speakers approached the podium, it was clear what the message was. Hillner and Sanford are people that have made a real difference. They have challenged their community to challenge themselves. These are our heroes.

"We need more of the Judys and Gerrys," Superintendent Chris Hottel said.

Both Hillner and Sanford received plaques for their "significant contribution to the North Andover public schools." They each received a plaque to bring home, and they also each received classroom plaques which will be hung in the schools in which they worked -- Hillner's at Atkinson Elementary School and Sanford's at the high school. Also, their names will be added to the Educator Hall of Fame plaque that hangs at the high school.

During Hillner’s acceptance speech, she said that she did not regret anything. She has enjoyed her life and her children and would not want it any other way. Hillner left the audience with words of inspiration:

"Learning is fun. It's simple… if you make it fun,” she said.

In Sanford's acceptance speech, he thanked his friends and family, and mentioned that both of his children are teachers.

Mr. Gourd June 17, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Who was the other speaker who knew Mr. Sanford since 1977? Wasn't there some way to find out?
Bill Callahan June 17, 2011 at 06:02 PM
These are the people who really improved people's lives. And the folks that all sorts of anonymous commentators bash on a daily basis as greedy people who care only about their paychecks. Just for the record, North Andover is the 55th wealthiest community in the commonwealth and ranks 271st in teacher salaries.
Bill Kelly June 18, 2011 at 12:24 PM
Bill, I agree that the Teaching profession is highly under appreciated but where did you get your stats that NA ranks 271st in salaries ?
Chris Allen June 19, 2011 at 05:38 PM
In the DOE’s 2009-2010 report on average teacher salaries, 328 schools and school districts were ranked. North Andover comes in at 208, with an average salary of $63,908. State average was listed as $68,781. http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/teachersalaries.aspx?mode=&year=2010&export=yes&orderBy=&export_excel=yes
Bill Callahan June 22, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Bill - I used the Globe's data which was a few years old. I may have had the denominator on the # of school districts wrong, but my essential point was correct.


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