By Mary O’KEEFE
After 50 years of teaching Rosemont Middle School students, math teacher Jack Silberstein is retiring.
“I am honored to be with this ensemble of brain power, mega ton, mega width brain power here. I am so humbled and so privilege to have [worked with you] and to have learned so much from you all,” Silberstein said at a farewell party for him by Rosemont teachers and staff on Friday.
Silberstein’s calm, light English accent has graced math classrooms for half a century. The first thing a visitor would notice when entering his classroom is the respectful silence as he stands at the overhead projector and guides his students through their lesson.
“Again please notice, this [answer] is less so therefore ‘x’ is less than negative one….And with this we have completed your homework,” he explained.
Silberstein’s voice is the perfect professor’s tone, neither too high nor low with just enough fluctuation. He is courteous and the students reflect those manners as they ask him questions.
“He is always so polite and always says please. I have learned a lot from him. He explains things exceedingly well,” said student Anthony Avellano.
“He is kind and very smart. My mom appreciates him because he [has been here so long]. He is one of the best teachers. He never yells, never gets angry,” said student Jennielyn Bazan.
Avellano and Bazan were among the students in Silberstein’s last class on Tuesday.
At his party he reflected on his teaching career, which began at Rosemont in 1958.
“Certainly the demographics have changed over the years but I think kids are getting smarter and smarter. The kids are a lot of fun and the parents here are so supportive. The [staff] are wonderful people,” he said.
Even after 50 years of teaching middle school students, not the easiest age to deal with, Silberstein is still amazed at their accomplishments.
“There is an exploration of knowledge here and I credit that to the youngsters,” he said.
The math wing at Rosemont is dedicated to Silberstein. Both students and fellow educators respect him.
“Jack is very compassionate. He really loves the students. He will work with them until they understand,” said Assistant Principal Ron Sowers.
Sowers has been at Rosemont for almost 40 years, 38 of those have been with Silberstein. Silberstein was on sabbatical when Sowers first arrived at the school.
“When I grow up I want to be like Jack,” he joked.
Silberstein has taught many students over the years some of which are now teachers at Rosemont including English teacher Jamie Arrow.
“He was so gentle. He always [had time] to teach one on one with students. I knew that he cared,” Arrow said.
Silberstein said he would miss Rosemont students and staff and plans to explore the United States.
“I will miss you for a very long time,” he said to his fellow educators. “You have prolonged my life. You gave me a wonderful life.”