It’s Time to Bid Au Revoir to our BHS Retirees

So Long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehen! Goodbye! From now on, September will be just another month for them


Left to right: Mrs. Cathy Murray, Mr. Robbie Gallacher, and Mrs. Beth Jones

As staple to the BHS landscape, these dedicated educators are ready to turn the page and begin writing the next chapter of their lives. Their presence has been impactful over the years, and they will be missed. What brought them here? What inspired them? What do they have next in store? Read our in depth interviews with each and view the legacy that each leaves behind.

Where Did the Time Go…..
The psychology of a great career with Mrs. Murray

“I wanted to make a difference….I wanted to help kids see their worth, believe in themselves…I felt there was no better way to do this than to become an educator.”
Cathy Murray’s career path has been long and winding. Her Bachelor’s Degree led to her first job in a juvenile detention facility working with kids who had really struggled to make their way. Then she worked at a day school for emotionally challenged kids. “I was in charge of crisis intervention and recreation.” From there, she worked as a Probation Officer in the Family and the Criminal Court departments.

During those years she was attending graduate school and leaning towards becoming a School Psychologist. She eventually moved to NY and her first job here was in a residential treatment center and from there two psychiatric hospitals. During that time, she interned at JFK and eventually secured a position at BHS as the only School Psychologist in the building. “Those days were especially challenging for me.”

Looking back on your career, what would you cite as the highlight(s)?
Highlights of my career at BHS are the people I have met along the way. I have met amazing students who seek happiness and a desire to learn about themselves. I have met counselors and teachers who commit their lives to helping students grow. It’s been a thrill to be part of that process.

What aspects of your work at BHS will you miss most? Least?
Aspects of work I will miss the most would be helping a child figure out a problem, helping a child feel their worth and seeing teens transform into young adults. I will miss being a part of a group that focuses so heavily on the development and well-being of others. I will NOT miss getting up at 5:40 am every morning.

What have you learned from the students you have worked with?
I have learned how to be a better person. I have learned to be patient, understanding, and I have learned it is right to assume the best in others. So much more comes from taking that perspective.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in education/at BHS?
To the new counselors and teachers. Keep an open mind, there are many ways to accomplish your goals; kids remember how they feel-make them feel awake and alive.

Would you share something with us that BHS students might not know about you?
For those that do not know me-I wish you peace and the chance for you to become the best version of yourself.

If you could recommend one place everyone should visit, where would that be and why?
I think everyone should have the chance to see a Broadway play. Your PICK. Theater is transformative, brilliant and essential. Keep music and art alive. Oh, and the BEACH. Everyone should have the sensory awakening that the beach provides. Riding the waves is important in being fully human.

What are your hopes/plans for retirement?
My plans are bountiful. I think I should sit and stare at the ocean for July and August. Then, hike around the NY State park system in September and October. There is so much to see. But, my real desire is to join the volunteers at one of the Florida aquariums and get involved in a rescue, rehab, release program. I have always loved the ocean and would love to get involved in some aspects of care, stewardship and conservation of our oceans.

Bear Facts wishes Mrs. Murray the best of health, happiness, love, and appreciation of the earth in her retirement!


Thank You For Being a Friend
Friendships, influences and connections with Mr. Gallacher

Robbie Gallacher had no desire to be a teacher and was living on a Greek island when a teacher friend visited and convinced him to sub. He then went back, started coaching, and and got certified to teach which started his career. “I never would have thought that I would teach for thirty years, but I really enjoyed the careers, and the kids, and coaching.” (basketball, baseball for 5-6 years at the modified level, and football for a year.) “I really enjoyed it until I had four children and I began to coach them.” He’s been teaching for thirty years, and all of it was here at Brewster.

He started off teaching Global Studies and participation in government and Economics and has taught “everything basically that we have here except for Psychology I think. I always had three, four, five preps every year which means three, four classes that I was teaching all the time. So it wasn’t such about the courses as it was about the experience of teaching wherever they needed me to fill in.” But his favorite grade to teach is 12th grade and SUPA Public Affairs.

Upon returning to BHS, he came back and taught with teachers that were his teachers (people like Mr. Gross, Mr. Talarico, Mrs. Saracino, and Mr. Gallagher) which was “kinda fun,” and now he’s come full circle and is surrounded by a great group of young people. “I’m leaving the department in good hands. I feel good about that. I actually have two teachers working with us now that were students of mine, Mrs O’Sullivan and Mrs Corvino.”

A local, some of his favorite moments are with the town veterans and meeting people like, “Bob Palmer and the Durkins and working with Suzanne Churrin and Eleanor Fitchin and Rundell Bloomer, all old Brewster legends. That was the most fun, learning about the deep history of Brewster and gaining an appreciation for it and trying to share it with the students who live here.“

Are there students that you vividly remember?
“Oh yeah, a whole bunch of students. I’ve been to a lot of their weddings, baptisms. A former student is now on the board of education and I’m still close with Dehisy Jimenez-Vazquez. Andrew Spherestick- I worked for him for a little while. He owns a painting contract, and I worked a couple of summers with him. So I do have a lot of students I’m friendly with and that’s the reason I love Facebook, staying in touch, watching all their successes, and children and things like that, so I love that.

What advice do you have for new teachers?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Always leave the door open and let students correct any mistakes they make as far as their behavior. Never give upon a kid. And go easy on yourself. This field changes all the time. You might not agree with what the changes are, if you really enjoy the kids try to stick it out. It’s a hard profession right now.

What’s something we don’t know about you?
I love to garden and I’m a motorcycle guy. Those two things seem contradictory but…

What’s one place everyone should visit?
In New York State, everyone should visit Letchworth State Park, and in the world everyone should visit Greece.

What advice do you have for new advisors?
Have fun with it and engage the kids, get involved with the community. Just do good.

What’s your favorite memory working here?
The friendships that I developed. Some of my best friends are people that I met here now so I regularly have dinner with Mrs. Cleary and Mrs. McCloud and Mrs. Fine. We took trips to Europe together with students. 40 students every year we’d go on an adventure until 9/11 happened and then that kinda stopped. So those are probably my favorite things. It was some of the traveling I did with some of my peers.

Bear Facts thanks Mr. Gallacher for his years of dedication and wishes him a retirement filled with lots of time on the open, local road, with family and friends.


The Long and Winding Road
Being guided to the right destination with Mrs. Jones

All her life, people always told Beth Jones that she should be a teacher because she related to children well. So, she started at American University in Washington D.C. as an elementary education major and worked at an elementary school in suburban Maryland. “I felt like I was missing something: there was a big world out there that I wanted to be a part of and being in a classroom at that point in my life felt limiting and not where I wanted to be. What then??? I really didn’t know. I was interested in law but didn’t think I was smart enough to get into law school (don’t ever sell yourself short like I did).” She and her father had always shared an interest in business and the stock market so she gravitated towards economics.

After sophomore year, she transferred to Fairleigh Dickinson University and majored in Economics. As a result of an on campus interview, she was offered a job at Eurobrokers, a money broking business where she spent the next 18 years. “It was a lot of fun, very competitive and very much dominated by men at that time. More than one time I was the only woman trader on the desk, I didn’t feel like a trailblazer at the time but when I retired in 1995, many of the women that now populated the desk thanked me for opening a door for them.”

She had her 2nd child in 1996 and spent the next 10 years as a full time mother. “I loved every minute of it, immersed myself in my family, community and the elementary school my children attended. It was during this time I started thinking about my next career.” She knew she wanted a people oriented job and loved the school environment but wasn’t passionate about any specific subject.

After receiving an invitation to Fordham University’s School of Education open house, she spoke to professors who taught social workers, English teachers, school psychologists and to the school counseling director. “Honestly before that night, I had never even thought of being a Guidance Counselor.” She took the leap of faith, and three years later she graduated with a 4.0 GPA at 51 years old. “It was one of the best experiences of my life and had a profound impact on who I am today.”

After a 10 week leave replacement at New Rochelle High School, a school of 5000 students, the school psychologist, who lived in Brewster, came frantically looking for her saying that her son’s Guidance Counselor at Brewster, Jess McCann, had been called up to Iraq and they need a replacement right away. Jones took over in October of 2006. “It was a great job, in a great department, with lots of support and collaboration.”

But by August, McCann had returned safely and Jones needed to start looking for a job. She was asked to be the Student Assistance Counselor, something Brewster did not have at the time, which focused on drug and alcohol education and counseling and was supported through an outside mental health agency. Working in both Wells and BHS, she learned a lot about addiction and the impact it has on young people. At the end of that school year, a 6th guidance position was created in and she got the job, “It’s hard to believe 16 years have gone by so quickly.”

A true people person, she says that she’s loved, “the great people I have worked with along with the interesting, wonderful students I have had the opportunity to get to know.” She will miss the people with whom she worked with and the time spent with students and parents. “I have always seen my role as a facilitator for students and parents through the ups and downs of high school life.” The tough part? “In a public school there is a lot of record keeping, spreadsheets, accountability and with over 200 students per counselor, that can be hard to stay on top of and give every student the time and attention they need and deserve.”

She’s learned that, “everyone has their own history and path to follow. Everyone is an individual, not like their sibling before them or any other student in their same position, what you see on the surface can be very different to what is really going on in a person’s head and heart.” So she asks others coming in to the profession to, “be authentic; let students know you really want to hear what they have to say. Try not to make any assumptions why students are doing what they are doing and always give them the benefit of the doubt.”
For her retirement, “I feel I will have another chapter of some kind, possibly a job, volunteering or something totally different than I have done so far. My hope is to be healthy and have more time to spend with my family and friends.”

Bear Facts wishes for many more chapters in the already long and interesting book of Mrs. Jones. Happy retirement!