Faunce bids farewell to GHS


Sofia Orlando

Math teacher Ms. Faunce in her classroom, where she has taught for 22 years.

FINN WALL, Staff Writer

Two plus two may be four, but great teaching plus a great personality equals Gloucester High School’s  favorite math wizard, Deborah Faunce.  This year, GHS will say a final goodbye to the beloved math teacher, who is retiring after 22 years of service. 

Faunce started at GHS in 2001, working as a math and computer science teacher. She attended Williams College for her bachelors degree, and then Salem State for her masters. She loved a number of subjects, moving from majoring in geology, to chemistry, to eventually earning her degree in economics.

After college, she went on to work in an engineering-based call center. She worked there for a number of years, until the allure of teaching beckoned. 

“I loved computer science, Faunce said. “It’s very intellectually challenging, you can get very deep into it, and zone in, and solve these intricate problems. But then at some point I found myself feeling disconnected. I knew that other companies would buy our product, and they would use it for good things, but I was so far disconnected from those good things that I found myself wanting to see more value in what I did.”

Faunce has spent her years at GHS forging an environment she is proud of, teaching across subjects to generations of kids. In her wake, she has left a generation of students who have gained a passion for math and computer science.

“Relationships have to be the most important to me. It begins and ends with relationships,” Faunce said. “I enjoy the creative aspect of being a teacher, but what I am going to miss the most is the connections I have made with students and other members of the faculty.”

Her influence as a teacher is obvious, Over the years, she has impacted a large number of students who have come through her classes, who know her as an excellent teacher and friend.

“Mrs Faunce is a wonderful teacher who shows great dedication to her subject and students,”  class of 2021 graduate Olivia Hogan-Lopez said. “She was a great inspiration to me, both as a math teacher and a role model.”  

“Ms. Faunce has such a dedication to her students’ learning and success,” said senior Seamus Buckley, who took  Faunce’s AP Calculus class this year. “When she is teaching, she never moves on from a concept or part of a lesson until she is sure that every single person in the class fully understands it. She helped me to understand topics I was struggling with, and she was willing to go above and beyond for her students.” 

Faunce said she has learned as much as her students over her years here. She enjoys being on the “steep side of a learning curve,” and said her years at GHS have been “immensely satisfying and rewarding” as a result of providing that curve.  Though her job has been hard, Faunce always brings a positive attitude to engage her students, as the saying she lives by – “fake it ‘til you feel it!” – suggests. 

“One of the things I am reflecting on is the value of people reaching out to me to help me out,” Faunce said.  “When I first started, the first day, Mr. DiPietro, who was the newest in the department, came to me that first day we were in a meeting and said ‘anything you need, come see us. We will help you out,’ and they checked in on me. There is such a value in having folks reach out to you and try to mentor you. I didn’t have to ask, people just came. It was so welcoming.” 

Faunce, who has been a teacher, department leader, and friend, has left a significant impact on her colleagues who recall fondly on their years together.

“I have enjoyed working with Ms. Faunce over the last 22 years more than I can even say.” Mr. DiPietro said. “I can’t believe all these years have passed, now that she is retiring – I haven’t taken any of these days together for granted. Every project, every situation – it was always a joy working with her. I will miss her, I really will. Everyone in the department will.”

Jennifer Kennedy who has worked with Faunce for the past 21 years described Faunce as friendly and welcoming. 

“What I remember most from our years together is 21 years ago, right when I started,  she was known as ‘fanny pack’, because she always had a fanny pack,” Kennedy said.  “We all thought it was the funniest and sweetest thing. Getting to know her, she is very intelligent and supportive, not only as a friend, but in the parent to parent relationship we have had, as our kids are basically the same age. She always tries to listen, and accommodate everyone’s personalities. She will definitely be missed.” 

Ms. Faunce isn’t done with her passion for teaching yet. After a few years of retirement, she plans on getting involved with volunteering, or continuing on with part-time teaching. But as for now, she is planning on having a period of well-deserved rest.

“It’s gonna be nice not to have any structure,” Faunce said. “Like most kids, what I dislike most about working at a school is waking up early in the morning. I am so excited to have some unstructured time, when I can wake up later in the morning. If I want to have my coffee and read a book out in the yard, I can start that way. For the first year, my husband and I plan to travel, relax, and figure out what I want to do next.”

Faunce’s position as math department leader will pass onto Ms. Walsh. Big shoes to fill, undoubtedly, but Ms. Walsh knows she has learned from the best.

“There are so many things I could say about Ms. Faunce,” Ms. Walsh said. “She is not only the brain of the department but also the mother. She is the person that we go to as our math wizard but she is also someone we go to with our most personal problems, knowing that she keeps them at her chest and will give us unbiased advice. She has reminded me to ‘fake it to I feel it’ on multiple occasions, recognizing that we are not always on the same page as our colleagues, but only after reminding us to ‘assume positive intent’.  I have worked side by side with her for 13 years. She has built a cohesive department of people with different strengths and personalities and has led by example with grace. I will miss her so much up here on the third floor. Whose lanyard will I have to find when she isn’t here anymore?”

Ms. Faunce leaves GHS with a wealth of memories and connections to her community, and a forever place in her heart for the loving environment she has found at this school over the course of her years here.

“It’s the people, the students, and the folks I have worked with for so many years that I will miss the most,” she said. “How to replace the value of that in my life outside of school is going to be something I am going to think a lot about. But I am going to miss people the most. It’s a special place here.”

Faunce’s advice to new teachers: “If someone hasn’t reached out, look for that help, there will be people for you. You will find others that have a positive outlook on education, on students, and that is the support you need to make the transition into this field.”

Faunce’s final advice for students:  “High school is not life, and when you leave you have flexibility in choosing your path in life,” she said.  “For my students, I am encouraging them to stay the course. This may not be your happy place, but it is a great step to get to your happy place. And for students for whom this is the happy place, and who are thinking about going into colleges, not everyone gets to go to the school they want to. I said to my seniors, you will get to a school where you will make it. I didn’t go to my first choice, many of my students aren’t going to their first choice, but you will always find a place where you can have great experience if you look. Most of you didn’t pick GHS specifically, but you made your space here, you found your people, and you’ve made it work, so you will do the same thing when you get to college. There is never just one good fit for you, don’t worry.”