Postlethwait teacher retires after 50-year career

Sarah Tunstill smiles after receiving a special tribute from the state of Delaware from Caesar Rodney School District Superintendent Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald on June 8. (Submitted photo/Caesar Rodney School District)

CAMDEN — Sarah Tunstill, a teacher at Postlethwait Middle School, recently retired after a 50-year teaching career.

Ms. Tunstill got her start at Garfield Elementary School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from 1967 to 1979, where she initially taught kindergarten.

These morning and afternoon classes ranged from 20 to 25 students with different students in each class. While at Garfield, she piloted several programs; one was special kindergarten with 20 disadvantaged students and no paraprofessional. These students were transferred from a segregated special education facility to an all-day class within the mainstream.

Later in the early 1970s, Garfield converted an education specialty school that had moved from all black enrollment to about two-thirds black, one-third white.

With the onset of integration of public schools, she left Garfield and transferred to Franklin Pierce School, a bilingual pilot school, where she taught fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade English-speaking students.

She taught at Pierce from 1979 to 1990 and relocated to Delaware after the death of her mother. While at Pierce, one of her students took first place in an “I Have a Dream” essay contest, competing with all Milwaukee Public School sixth-grade students.

Additionally, she set up a school-wide post office as a project for Valentine’s Day which was featured in MPS Magazine and she organized a Black History Month project educating and involving the entire school.

Ms. Tunstill relocated to Dover and worked for a year in the Capital School District as a librarian, supporting three elementary schools including East, Towne Point and Hartly.

In 1993, she accepted an assignment as lead teacher at New Beginnings Alternative School in Newark and serviced at-risk students from the surrounding school districts, including elementary and middle schools. Furthermore, she helped win skills-building for the Mind and Body – Academics and Athletes competition of Alternative Schools, 1999 state championship.

Finally, she served as coordinator of the middle school site in Newark and won Alternative Teacher of the Year in 1998.

In 2000, she accepted a position at Postlethwaite in the CARE classroom, teaching English Language Arts, Social Studies, and RTI (Response to Intervention) to sixth- through eighth-graders.

While assigned in this classroom, she devoted her energies to helping students with behavior or academic challenges achieve success in a more-structured environment so that they are able to successfully transition back to the regular education setting. Her class size ranged from three to 15 students with great varieties of personalities, skills and achievement levels.

In previous years, she taught all core academic subjects, earning several awards.

Ms. Tunstill resides in Dover. Her family includes her nephews and nieces who are enjoying successful careers in education and public relations.

Ms. Tunstill says she loves her job and is grateful for the great people she has met on this journey. She wants to be remembered as a person who tries her best at all times. She thanks God for her ability to be flexible and tries to help others day by day.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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