After a lifetime dedicated to education, Mary Rinck, Magistra to her students, has earned her recent retirement. We are fortunate that she has dedicated the past 19 years to Westfield. Hired by Bill Probsting in 2002 to teach Latin, Mary Rinck has worn many hats since. From the beginning of her Westfield career Mary developed a deep love for the school, its students, their parents, and her colleagues. A gifted educator, she married learning the fundamentals of grammar, declensions and the nominative tense, with an enduring love for antiquity.
For Mary, highlights of her years teaching include preparing her students for success in the National Latin Exam and helping them research a topic for the Philadelphia Classical Society competition. For the latter event, students, inspired by ancient Rome, created works of art in various mediums. From coliseums out of legos, to fig leaf circlets, to togas and translations of Cicero, Mary helped every student connect an aspect of the ancient world to their own modern lives.
Mary collaborated with colleagues as a regular part of her practice. Every year, Mary and Madame (Marcy Partnow) would host a French & Latin celebration complete with togas and berets. They called this the Sub Rosa celebration - a secret meeting for 8th grade students. Madame and Magistra always timed the event to coincide with the 7th grade major field trip so it remained a secret. The 8th grade students were also surprised and solemnly sworn to secrecy. Mary’s collaborative efforts also included field trips, including one she and Teacher Deborah Moss Marris took to the Museum of Sculpture in Hammonton and then to a French Restaurant.
In recent years, Mary taught Spanish to younger students to introduce them to the sounds and idioms of this modern, romance language. She continued to relate ideas from Latin to enhance their learning. Students benefited from the convergences and overlaps in the two languages. Mary and Sénor DiClaudio worked together, using language, to expose students to the wider world.
Mary had a particular talent in reaching alums, creatively supporting the school, and a warm rapport with parents. She was an original member of the current Development Committee and through her work there has helped to make each major event a success. From past galas, the recent Taste of Our Towns, to each of the Autumn Golf Outings, she has organized, set up and has greeted the participants making sure all felt welcome. Other development highlights include connecting Westfield with Temple athletics, regular attenders now to the Golf Outings and Taste of Our Towns. In 2019-2020, she helped call every single family to encourage parents to give to the Annual Fund. She even introduced a friendly competition, where any class with 100% family participation in the Annual Fund would win a pizza party lunch for the grade. That challenge is still open to families.
Mary has enjoyed and sustained school traditions, while also embracing innovation and helping Westfield adopt fresh educational approaches. She welcomed the creative space of the OWLS lab and helped transition the library. For the 2020 holiday concert, she encouraged the new music teacher, Jessica Fielding, to carry on the tradition of the Second Grade Nativity while also including music from a variety of faith and secular winter and holiday traditions.
Mary appreciates the changing demographics of Cinnaminson, her hometown. In her role as Admissions Director, she worked conscientiously so that Westfield students better reflect the wealth of diversity in Burlington County. Knowing that bringing students to school wasn’t enough to ensure they realized their full potential, she worked with Head of School, Margaret Haviland, to ensure that Westfield is a place where everyone feels valued and welcome.
This is a fitting place to end this tribute to Mary by stressing the importance she placed upon creating a sense of welcome and belonging to everyone she meets. Westfield and its families have been shaped by her presence, and we are fortunate to have experienced her many gifts.
Thank you Magistra!