To the editor:
I am a fourth generation, lifelong Newburyport resident with close ties to both Newburyport education and athletics. Since my graduation from the Newburyport Public School system in 1999 and from Colgate University in 2003, I have been an advocate for the development, construction and improvement of the educational infrastructure in this city, despite the increased tax burden that will inevitably affect all citizens. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to be educated and develop within the Newburyport school system, and it is my wish that future generations have the same advantages. It was an education that was honed not only by my family, but also through the lifelong commitment of Newburyport’s past educators, such as Francis T. Bresnahan.
Typically not one to be overtly opinionated, it has recently come to my attention that you may change the name of the Francis T. Bresnahan Elementary School, and I felt compelled to write. When I think of Mr. Bresnahan’s legacy, it is inherently all that I think is right about education and Newburyport. Francis was an endearing man who garnered the respect of the entire community. He was a man who was not only educated in Newburyport, but was also the epitome of an educator; a career that spanned more decades than it did titles: teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent. He was a man who returned to this great city after college and dedicated his entire life to the Newburyport Public School system. To rename the Francis T. Bresnahan Elementary School would be a great injustice to what he stood for, and an injustice to all who cared for him, including his loving wife, children and grandchildren.
I think this issue particularly resonates with me because my mother, Susan Stone, has now taught in Newburyport since 1974 ... the better part of 39 years. She always considered Mr. Bresnahan to be a great friend, colleague and mentor. Should one day something be named after my mother, I couldn’t imagine the admiration I would have for the tremendous recognition of her sacrifice and commitment to education. Then I think, what if several years later they were to deprive her of that honor, and what kind of devastation would I feel? It is literally unimaginable, and I can completely empathize with what Mr. Bresnahan’s family is currently enduring.
I am certainly an advocate for change and improvement. I also love the fact that the children of Newburyport will have a brand new center for educational excellence; however, it should not come at the expense of Francis T. Bresnahan.
Editor’s note: This letter was sent prior to Monday’s School Committee vote to retain the school’s name.