Memories in every corner
Claire Primrose spends her days teaching math and science to middle schoolers. Her classroom has some very neat features, including the windows. Through the windows she can spot not only her childhood home, but the school building where she learned as a student five decades ago.
“I feel memories in virtually every corner,” said Claire, who attended St. Mary School in Wilmington in the 1960s and teaches there today. The room where she sat as a 1st grader is a violin room today. But when she takes her students to that room, memories come alive.
“I can still remember sitting in the first row as our principal announced over the intercom that President Kennedy had been assassinated,” she said.
Other memories are about her classmates, most of whom she knew as family throughout her eight years as a student. The Sisters of Mercy, who taught at the school and impressed her with their kindness and dedication, felt like extended family. Claire was the youngest of six children, raised by a single mom. She remembers how her 1st grade teacher, Sister Mary Kathleen, would give her the books her brothers and sisters used before her.
“It was so wonderful to open them up and see my siblings’ names in the front,” she said. “It was comforting to know they had been there before me and were there with me.”
Claire was baptized at St. Mary Church, which is now a basilica. She received sacraments, including marriage, there. Her children were baptized there.
She developed a career as an accountant, but found she enjoyed helping her grandson with his homework, so she earned her MAT-Middle Grades Education degree and became licensed in middle grades math, science and gifted education. She worked in public schools in Robeson and Duplin Counties for six years until her husband became ill with cancer and she took a break from teaching.
After his death, she decided to return to the classroom.
“I loved being with the students and really enjoyed that interaction,” Claire said. “I couldn’t believe it when I looked on Indeed and saw there was an opening at St. Mary’s.”
Today Claire lives right around the corner from the school. She said she loves the focus on academics at St. Mary, along with the courtesy, civility and respect that are the order of the day, as they were when Claire was a child. She also loves the fact that children attend Mass once a week.
“I love that spiritual infusion,” Claire said.
But it’s the focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at St. Mary that motivates Claire.
“I believe that STEM can make students aware of practical applications of the content they are learning and help them discover career paths they might not have otherwise discovered,” she said.
These days she’s working overtime preparing her students for the Science Olympiad. St. Mary has a strong history of competing in and winning the Olympiad. Now it’s Claire’s turn to be part of that legacy.
“Because I was raised in the Catholic faith I feel as if I have come home!” Claire said. “This will always be a special place for me.”