What can you do for a dedicated teacher that is retiring after 31 years of educating our little ones? Normally, you'd throw the teacher a retirement party. There would be speeches and toasts offered in her honor from the principal and her colleagues.

But unfortunately, that can't happen during the COVID-19 pandemic. There's no room for retirement parties – not yet, at least. If all goes as planned, teachers are still a few weeks away from receiving their first vaccine.

So the staff at the John B. DeValles School in New Bedford did the only thing they could think of that would properly acknowledge the occasion: they reached out to Fun 107. We talked to Mrs. Goncalves on Michael and Maddie.

Courtesy of Irene Caneira

Maria Goncalves came to the United States from Portugal back in 1975 and has taught at DeValles for the past 26 years. Previous to that, she taught at the Ottiwell School in New Bedford. The bulk of her teaching career was spent at DeValles, and she has the legend status to prove it.

"Mrs. Goncalves is a cornerstone to our school," said Kristen Desorcy, who has been teaching with Mrs. Gonsalves for the past seven years. "She has such a loving and caring personality and would do anything for her colleagues and her students. She speaks multiple languages Spanish, Portuguese, and French, which has made her our translator for many years."

"When I first started my teaching career five years ago, Mrs. Goncalves was there to take me under her wing," said Nicole Akin. "I truly do not know how I would have survived my first year, and every year since, without her. She is the kindest person and has the purest heart."

The staff said they will remember Mrs. Goncalves as always being so kind and generous, not only to her little first-grade students but to the entire staff at school.

It wasn't unusual for the DeValles School staff to walk into the teacher's room and find fresh, homemade malassadas or pasteis de nata, lovingly made by Goncalves, especially around the holidays.

Mrs. Goncalves always opened up her home to host the DeValles School staff Christmas parties.

"She did it without hesitation," Irene Caneira said. "She never complained about it. She loved to do it."

"We are devastated that we can't have a party for Maria due to COVID. We wanted to show her how much we love and appreciate her, so we contacted Fun 107," she said.

Congratulations, Mrs. Goncalves. Enjoy every moment of your retirement!

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