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PACE Teachers Leave Mark on Program and Students

MAMARONECK, N.Y. - In the middle of packing up 40-years of materials and memories into a brown box, the retiring Martie Barylick paused for a minute with a framed photo that had sat on her office wall in the Mamaroneck High School all of those years.

Barylick says she is the opposite of a hoarder, but will hold onto that photo. The 40-year PACE program dance teacher and her long-time counterpart John Fredrickson, who taught theater for 27 years, retired at the end of the school year.

"I first set foot in this school in September, 1970," said Barylick, who will teach dance education for masters students at Rutgers University this fall. "So, 40 years in high school is kind of enough."

The PACE program's curriculum has been nationally recognized as one of the ten best public school art programs. Fredrickson and Barylick attribute that to their collaborative teaching style.

"I think that's the difference between ourselves and other programs," said Fredrickson, who will take a vacation this September while his former colleagues start another school year."We don't compete with one another — theater, dance and music. Kids come in as freshman and take equal amounts of time of all three areas."

Fredrickson stops short of taking credit for the program's success, but approximately 350 students, parents and alumni who filled the McLain auditorium on June 21 to give a surprise goodbye party would argue Fredrickson and Barylick deserve all of the credit. Many of those students said as much in the letters they wrote and presented to them.

"We received two huge, large-than-shoebox boxes full of notes from our students from forever back, and it's taken me about a week to read through them," Barylick said.

Graduating seniors Veronica Guerrero, Melanie Gabel and Jackie Sadofsky organized the event through Facebook and choreographed a stage show, incorporating what they had learned during the four-year program.

"They used stuff that we had them do on stage to honor us, which was amazing," Fredrickson said.

Some of the alumni traveled from as far away as California, while others recorded their well wishes through Skype. After the performances, the students held a reception in the Palmer Avenue cafeteria, and a group of current students who formed a DJ company called T3 provided the entertainment.

"I felt like i'd been on the concord and been around the world. I was jet lagged for a week," Barylick said.

In addition to teaching at Rutgers University, Barylick is considering teaching a similar program at Hofstra University. This summer, she will also teach a dance education lab at the YMCA center on 92nd Street in New York City.

"I have to have a mission," Barylick said. "And I have a terrible relationship to leisure. John's is much better."

After 33 total years of teaching, Fredrickson plans on getting bored before he does anything else.

"I'm the kind of guy that, if I went directly into teaching in college, I would probably get so involved, and who knows when that would end," Fredrickson said. "So, i'm taking some time to figure out what I want to do next."

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