hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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February 28, 2013

Teacher deserves honor of center named in her memory

You could call it a no-brainer.

The city plans to name a teaching center at Tilton School in memory of the late Joanne Bevilacqua and in honor of her extended family, several of whom have to worked to improve education in Haverhill.

Bevilacqua taught for many years at Tilton, a school that serves children from some of the city’s lower-income neighborhoods. She worked not only to improve their education, but their lives as well, giving them items such as winter hats and gloves. (See story, Page 1.)

In truth, this is all about brains — Joanne Bevilacqua’s commitment to her students, their education and preparation for their future. It’s about her efforts to help the kids develop brain power that gives them a chance to succeed in life, but also makes them thoughtful in terms of kindness to others.

By being kind to them, she gave the children a good example to follow. By being devoted to them in their classroom work, she guided them to better learning.

Bevilacqua died in October 2008 at age 48. Not surprisingly, many of her students came to the calling hours to honor her. Undoubtedly, their presence eased the pain of other members of the Bevilacqua family, including Joanne’s brother Joseph Bevilacqua, a longtime Haverhill School Committee member.

“She had one goal in life, to be a teacher,’’ he told the Gazette, remembering his sister. “That’s all she wanted to do.

“My sister couldn’t wait for the summer vacation to end, so she could get back to her job teaching,” he said.

Superintendent James Scully suggested to the School Committee naming the center for Joanne Bevilacqua and her family. It was a good idea.

Sometimes buildings and places are named for people who were well known, but perhaps did not impact many lives. It can be a nice honor, but a somewhat empty one.

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