LYNN — Cobbet Elementary School doesn’t have air conditioning, but Florida native Jaclyn Lewinsohn said her experiences as a first-year Lynn teacher more than make up for the lack of cool air in the 91-year-old building.
Lewinsohn and teachers across the city spent the last day of school Tuesday sending students off to summer and cleaning their classrooms. For the 31-year-old Danvers resident, the end of the school year capped off her first year teaching in Cobbet.
“I learned so much about myself this year. I was held to high expectations but Lynn takes care of its teachers,” she said.
Lewinsohn is new to Lynn but no stranger to education. A graduate of Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., she lived in a number of locations across the country as a child and moved to Florida after completing her education to teach 4th and 5th graders.
She met her fiancé, Peter Horntrich, in Florida and a job transfer brought him back to Massachusetts where he has ties to Lynn and the North Shore. Horntrich’s aunt urged Lewinsohn to apply for a job in the Lynn schools. She took her up on the suggestion and Cobbet Principal Susanne Garrity called Lewinsohn.
“I interviewed eight candidates and she clearly stood out,” Garrity said.
Lewinsohn admits it took her time to adjust to Massachusetts’ seasonal weather after spending years in perpetually air-conditioned Florida. But Garrity and her teaching colleagues rallied around the newcomer and made her feel welcome.
Her 25-student 5th grade class received frequent assistance from reading and English as a Second Language specialists who worked with Lewinsohn. Every effort she made to help her students become better learners received support from Garrity and central office administrators.
To help focus fidgety learners, Lewinsohn ordered standing desks and a wobbly seat called a “hokki stool,” and gave students the option of using them.
“She’s so enthusiastic. She adapted very quickly,” said Garrity.
Lewinsohn said many of her Florida students were children of migrant workers and frequently moved. Her Lynn students, she said, are rooted in the community and embrace Cobbet as a home away from home. Many of them spent Tuesday in the old school’s classrooms and hallways cleaning and sorting through supplies destined for summer storage.
Watching Lewinsohn and other first-year teachers clean their classrooms Tuesday brought Garrity back to her first year teaching and how she embraced the profession 28 years ago. Her first Lynn classroom was in Ingalls Elementary School.
“I followed my heart and my gut,” she said.
Lewinsohn will relax this summer and take some teacher training courses. She looks forward to a fresh 5th grade class filing into Cobbet with the start of a new school year.
“Lynn has just been so good to me,” she said.