hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

October 25, 2012

Remembering longtime city teacher

Memorial donations bring books to classrooms

By Alex Lippa alippa@hgazette.com
The Haverhill Gazette

---- — When Arnold Mendelsohn died in 2010, his family wanted to give back to Consentino School and the city’s educational community, which he was a part of for more than 20 years.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that mourners donate money to the school’s student fund in memory of the longtime Haverhill teacher.

Last week, Mendelsohn’s legacy was honored as the school formally introduced the “The Arnold Mendelsohn Classroom Libraries.’’

“We told them (school officials) that they could use the money however they deemed necessary,” said Mendelsohn’s daughter, Melissa Cerasuolo.

As a result of the donations, each elementary classroom at Consentino now has its own “library” with new books. With Consentino growing last year to house kindergarten through grade eight, Principal Stephen Sierpina decided to use the donations to benefit the newer students.

School officials said donations received in memory of Mendelsohn totaled more than $1,000.

“As we transformed into a K-8 building, we weren’t set up for books for the younger kids,” Sierpina said. “What we did was create new libraries for each classroom so the students have new books which fit their levels.”

In addition to the books, a plaque was made to commemorate the donation by Mendelsohn’s family. Sierpina decided to put the plaque in a unique location which symbolizes the nature of the family’s contributions.

“We will have the plaque hanging outside the first-grade classrooms in one of the main hallways that is the gateway to the elementary classrooms,” Sierpina said.

Mendelsohn, who was 67 when he died in the Merrimack Valley Hospice House, had a long history in the city, teaching at Consentino, Silver Hill and Tilton schools. While he was a teacher, he was the head of the teacher’s union and also owned and operated a gift shop near Rosemont Station, which was along the train tracks off Rosemont Street. The gift shop is now located in Merrimack Valley Hospital.

The family was overwhelmed by the support that came from friends and former colleagues when they asked for donations.

“There were a lot of teachers and a lot of city people who paid their respects,” Cerasuolo said. “It was more than we ever expected.”

The Mendelsohn family still had a presence at Consentino up until last year, when one of Mendelsohn’s granddaughters graduated from eighth grade. Mendelsohn also had two other grandkids who attended Consentino.

Now, the Mendelsohn name will have a permanent place in the halls of the school.

“He would have been very proud,” said his widow, Debbie Mendelsohn. “He dedicated a lot of his life to students.”