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Elizabeth Graass
Excellence in Education

When Elizabeth Graass moved to North Attleboro in 1959, she could not have imagined the impact she would have on the town's children in her 27-year career in the North Attleboro school system. Her intelligent, compassionate manner helped more than a generation of North Attleboro students navigate their way through high school and on to their professional careers.

Asked in 1960 to substitute at the Junior High School with no previous experience in education, Mrs. Graass began taking courses required for certification, finished the year in the teacher's place, and remained for ten years teaching English, Social Studies and Mathematics (Algebra). But it was Thomas Joy, the Junior High School guidance counselor who arranged for her to assist him on a part time basis and later encouraged her to pursue her credentials in the field, that deserves credit for recognizing Mrs. Graass' potential. She earned her Master's degree in Counseling in 1970.

Mrs. Graass is generous in her praise for various individuals who influenced her career. In particular, she remembers her first principal at the Junior High, the late Merle Crockett, who gave Mrs. Graass her first teaching position and encouraged her to stay in education. When she moved to the High School in 1971, Principal Lou Kelley, her high school classmate (AHS '43), was very supportive and provided encouragement. Others who offered encouragement and assurance were the late Dutch Dieterle and her colleagues in guidance: John Perkoski, Ed Fox, the late Bill Kummer and Peter Johnson, who described Mrs. Graass, his first boss, as "an over-dedicated woman who would give you the shirt off her back." Mr. Johnson recalls occasions where Mrs. Graass quietly paid the application fee for students of limited financial means.

Besides her guidance colleagues, Mrs. Graass appreciates the positive influence on her career offered by Eleanor Pike, the guidance secretary for many years, and Midge Connor and June Crosta, the secretaries in the main office.

In addition, Mrs. Graass recalls that superintendent Bill Kelly's assurance was always "heartening." Mr. Kelly's personal letter to Mrs. Graass on the occasion of her retirement is among her most valued mementos from her illustrious career.

Throughout her career, Mrs. Graass was guided by a personal philosophy rooted in her own school experience. Like the "devoted, skilled, dedicated teachers who provided a love of learning and earned [her] sincere admiration," Mrs. Graass believed that her mission as an educator was "to provide a learning environment that is demanding but not intimidating and to assure each child that he can achieve." She also maintains that "any subject can be taught in a way that will replace a pre-existing sense of failure with a comfortable understanding. Every child needs to experience some measure of success, for it is a catalyst to achievement."

A true professional, Mrs. Graass "always was aware of the great privilege and even greater responsibility of being part of so many lives." As she reflects on her career, she feels "fortunateā€¦to be able to say, of my classroom or my guidance office, there was no place I would rather be." She especially enjoyed the visits to her office and notes from former students and their parents updating their children's activities and successes.

Mrs. Graass' husband of sixty-one years, John, passed away October 29, 2008, after a long illness. Since then, Mrs. Graass has spent her retirement years keeping up with the activities of her three children, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, using the latest technology to navigate Facebook, email daily and manage her extensive iPad photo album. She has also taken up watercolor painting as a hobby.