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Diane E. Dandreta, 74, passed away peacefully, Friday, May 31, 2019 at the High Point House in Haverhill, MA, surrounded by her family.
Diane was born on December 15, 1944 at the Clover Hill Hospital in Lawrence, MA. She lived in Lawrence for 40 years and then moved to Methuen.
Diane attended the John R. Rollins Street Grammar School in Lawrence. She graduated with distinction from the Lawrence High School and was awarded a Bachelors of Science in Education from Salem State College. She later earned a Master of Education from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Diane’s journey spanned 38 years in Methuen at three schools, the Howe School, the Marsh School and lastly at Methuen High School. She met wonderful people along her journey who became her lifelong friends. When she made the move to MHS in 1986, many of her elementary school friends couldn’t believe it. She told them that ‘high school students were really little kids in big bodes and that everything would be fine’. She had many lasting memories of the years at all the schools where she taught. The students, their parents and staff members were always a main part of her life. She was especially proud of her former students who entered the teaching profession and became part of the Methuen Public Schools.
When she started in the Methuen Public Schools at the Howe School, her principal, Ms. Ryan appointed her as the MEA Rep. Marge became Diane’s mentor and great friend. The MEA became a great part of Diane’s life which she said she ‘enjoyed most of it’
Unknown to many was the fact that Diane’s first involvement with union activities was in London, England as a representative for the cablegram room at Western Union International Cable Company where she worked along with her close friend Elaine Frangente.
In 2008, her close friend, Ann Marie Krusell, organized a retirement party for Diane. The House of Representatives and the Massachusetts State Senate both issued Diane an official citation in recognition of her 38 years of dedicated public service and commitment to education to the community of Methuen MA and to her students and colleagues at Methuen High School. The 2008 Methuen High School Yearbook was dedicated to her as she retired.
Although Diane is known for her unequaled presence in the classroom, the US Government had first tried to exploit her talents elsewhere: the military recruited her to serve in Vietnam and the Peace Corps had wanted her to go to Ethiopia. Lucky for her students and colleagues, she followed the call from Lady Academia. After graduating from Salem State College, she obtained her license to teach grades K to twelve, and thereafter taught at Holy Rosary School for a time before planning to bring her talents abroad. Arriving in England to teach, Diane’s plans were stymied by a national educator strike. Back in the States, she found her way to Methuen Public Schools, where she taught grades three and four at the Howe School and then at the Marsh School. She was happy and loved at both schools, but Methuen High’s Principal Mr. Jarvis asked her to join his school’s Social Studies Department. Ever indomitable, Diane survived the high school’s block schedule and open concept – making her realize the experience readied her for teaching on the tarmac at Logan Airport. Not only serving the needs of her students, Diane also served her colleagues, becoming involved with the teachers’ union. She became the grievance chairperson for several years and was ultimately elected President, a position she held for twelve years. During her tenure, the Methuen Teachers Association grew stronger and more unified, largely due to her unflagging advocacy for the needs of teachers and their students. While Diane took all her roles seriously, she ruled with a heart. It was not uncommon for her to buy the requisite sneakers for a young basketball player who could not afford them or to sit and encourage a young teacher overwhelmed by the profession’s myriad challenges. On May 17, 2019 the Methuen Public School Alumni Association recognized Diane as 2019 “Faculty Member” Inductee to the Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Alumni, and noted that “her stalwart devotion to her calling, her colleagues, and her students never wavered – and made her a most worthy recipient of many accolades as well as the love and respect of those lucky enough to work with her.”
Diane was pre-deceased by her parents, Ruby and Harold Dandreta. She is survived by her brother, Chuck Dandreta, his wife Ginny and their three children Charlene Dandreta, Chuck. Dandreta Jr. and Jeff Dandreta , 2 great-nieces Kristina and Harper, 2 great Nephews Alex and Hunter and 1 great-great Nephew Joseph James. She also leaves behind a very close family contingent in Pasadena, Texas, 3 of whom are also teachers.
Calling hours will be on Thursday, June 6th from 4:00 – 8:00 PM at St. Matthew Parish, 2 Searles Rd. Windham, NH. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, June 7th at 10:00 AM at St. Matthew Parish. Arrangements are under the direction of Goundrey & Dewhirst Funeral Home, 42 Main St. Salem, NH.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Diane Dandreta Memorial Scholarship. Checks should be addressed to MHSAA and mailed to Methuen Public Schools Central office at 10 Ditson Place, Methuen, MA 01844.