DRACUT — Donna Swercheski wanted no pomp or circumstance.
She quietly said goodbye to the first-graders at the Campbell Elementary School, packed up some of her belongings, chatted briefly with teachers and parents in the corridor as the buses rolled in for 3 p.m. dismissal, then waited outside the school on Methuen Street for her husband, Tom, who was scheduled to pick her up at 3:30.
“I’ve loved every minute I spent in this building. I really have,” said Swercheski, who retired on Feb. 12 after spending 36 years teaching at the Campbell. “I’m going out while I still love it. I never wanted to be in a position where somebody wanted to kick me out.”
Swercheski said she plans to spend more time with her three grandchildren, as well as her elderly father, Tom Murphy of Dracut.
“She is one of the veteran teachers in the system that will really miss,” said School Committee member Bonnie Elie, whose daughter is married to Swercheski’s son.
As a white stretch limousine pulled into the school driveway, Swercheski’s eyes widened. “Wow, look at this,” she said, thinking at first that the driver must be lost.
Pulling up to the curb, the driver hopped out and walked around to the back. He opened the door and out popped Tom Swercheski, single rose in hand. The couple embraced. Then they were off to York Beach, Maine, to spend the weekend celebrating Donna’s retirement, as well as Valentine’s Day, which is also her birthday.
Across the parking lot, Olivia Birolini, a first-grader at the Campbell School, stood near her mother, a single tear rolled down her eye and froze on her cheek.
“I’m sad,” she said. “She’s my teacher.”