Dorene Lees Lengyel – Class of 57

I enthusiastically entered as a freshman in the fall of 1954. I believe my tuition was $350 per semester. It increased some over the next years, but I was able to pay for my entire 4 years by waitressing in the summers. I took liberal arts classes at Tufts and took the T into Boston to The Nursery Training School  on Marlborough Street for education classes in a lovely old brownstone with at least three floors. This is where girls attended for years but was the last year in Boston. They moved to the Tufts campus in 1954 having become affiliated with them in 1951.

The NTS had purchased a house on the Tufts campus where the first few (maybe 10) four year students could live if needed. Being a Medford girl, I commuted for three years until my senior year. We went to orientation meetings at this house. Women began entering after junior college which helped fill the ranks.

The school bought an old WW11 Quonset hut next to Cousin’s Gym for on campus classes. We had our music classes there with white haired Miss Beatrice Spaulding who had us dancing with scarves and tambourines, making up songs and learning the core of her collected nursery school songs.  I sang them for years in school and to my own children and still remember many. The boys on their way to the gym would peek in the windows and get a laugh out of our performances. One spring day Miss Spaulding thought it a good idea to take us all to the Stoneham Zoo with another music teacher, Tony Salatan, who was a co-host on WGBH Channel 2  with Mary Lou Adams (EPS) on the 1955 children’s program “Come and See”. The idea was to play instruments and sing to the animals and see what their reaction might be. I have some movies of that day and remember only a lot of silliness on our parts! One year at the end of classes the whole school had a picnic at Wingersheek Beach. I remember elderly Miss Chandler, our curriculum teacher, daring to roll down her stockings to get a tan while sitting in the sand.

I made friends in both schools but was not “allowed” to rush a sorority. Everything else was open for us as far as I know and I became a cheerleader for four years.

Because the Korean War was just ending, the school brought a Korean girl (Sook Kim) who spoke no English, to study with our small class. The poor girl was so homesick and timid. She would anxiously hold onto whoever was walking with her to class and we all helped her with English. She did not graduate with us and I think she must have dropped out her sophomore year, but I don’t remember. I wonder what happened to her.

In my freshman and sophomore years, we observed in many nursery and kindergarten classrooms, both private and public, to get a feel for the many differences in teaching styles and curricula. Fortunately I had a car so could drive myself and others to various schools. In our junior and senior years we had a different student teacher assignment for each semester, five days a week. This was absolutely invaluable!

In 1954 Tufts became a university. There was a movie made called ‘How One College Educates” for prospective students. I had a small cameo in it! Dr. Cockerell became our director and the name was changed to Eliot-Pearson in 1955. In my senior year I lived on campus at Wyeth House. We had a dear housemother Mrs. Ester Karlson who made sure we kept our curfews and had no boys beyond our front room. I remember having to get special permission to meet my boyfriend after the curfew one night as he was coming home from a navy assignment for our senior prom. We had one telephone in a booth on the first floor for all the girls. We’d take turns answering it and yelling up the stairs for whomever it was for. We had a kitchen in our dorm and sometimes got communal meals there but most often we’d drive to Cambridge to a buffet restaurant right off Massachusetts Ave. where we would get a 3 course meal for 99 cents.

In my Eliot-Pearson Handbook from 1956 I note we had a strict dress code. “Bermuda shorts or slacks and jeans may be worn in the dorms but not on Tufts Campus and not in Boston Proper” reads one admonition. There were many rules for “overnight absences”, “signing out” calling hours for men callers, times for being out evenings and quiet time for study hours.

After graduation, my first job was in Syosset, Long Island, NY teaching public kindergarten for $4200. I had 36 children in the morning and 36 in the afternoon with no aide. After that, I started a private pre-school, St. Paul’s Church Day School, in Peabody, Ma. I was director and kindergarten teacher there, was director for 10 years of a large pre school in Lynnfield, Ma, earned my Master’s at Lesley College over 7 years in Special Ed. and became a Lynnfield public school kindergarten teacher for 10 years. I did a great deal of private tutoring, was one of the early members of the Whole Language Association, taught English as a Second Language and taught in the Resource Room in Lynnfield Public Schools.

My years at Tufts and Eliot-Pearson were some of my happiest. I had wonderful hands-on, creative training and used what I learned for years. I continue many friendships made then.

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