Burlington High School Language Teacher Stories

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I share with you some stories about two language teachers I had whose classrooms were located inside the now demolished B-Building of Burlington High School.

The Latin teacher was known by many names. And they were:

-Mrs. Finnerty
-Ms. Zak
-Mrs. Dates

She encouraged her students to call her Lainey above all others.

Her classroom had a wonderful assortment of wall paintings. Students painted each one, which depicted scenes from Roman life. There were also Latin phrases on the upper walls. Sayings such as Tempus Fugit and Non Compos Mentis, for instance. They are now completely gone due to the demolition. Such a pity I couldn’t film them.

Madame Kerr was my French teacher, when I was studying French 2. I thought she was jovial much of the time. And she seemed happy to teach. Granted, as a teenager, I felt embarrassed by it (and SO MANY other things!). Madame Kerr was a darned good teacher.

I know Mrs. Dates is dead. Cancer may have taken her. I’m not sure Madame Kerr is dead. That said, my first guess is a resounding yes. I say this because she was close to retirement (or beyond) when I had her. Since I don’t know her first name, I’ve had no luck, thus far, finding her.

Please reach out, if you have any information on her or any other BHS teachers. AND ABSOLUTELY SHARE YOUR STORIES, AS WELL!!

After I wrote all of what’s above, I thought I remembered Madame Kerr’s first name of Agnes. AND I DID! I found her obituary, which is below.


ELAINE SHARON DATES – BURLINGTON – Elaine Sharon Dates, wife of Stephen B. Dates, was born on March 1, 1942, in Hartford, Conn. She graduated from Burlington High School in 1960 and the University of Vermont with a BA in Classics in 1964. She went on to earn her Masters in Latin from Wayne State University and a Masters in Italian from Middlebury College and the University of Florence.

Elaine and Stephen were married on Feb. 19, 1983, in Burlington’s First Congregational Church. They spent the next 31 years as a couple who shared all of their activities. Elaine appreciated lifelong learning and in retirement continued her education by activities with the Burlington Garden Club, Federated Garden Clubs of Vermont, New England Region Garden Clubs, and the National Garden Clubs. Upon completion of four years of schooling she became a National Garden Club Accredited Judge. She has won numerous awards in flower arranging in NGC Flower Shows including the Boston Flower Show and the Philadelphia Flower Show. Elaine was President of the Burlington Garden Club, as well as the President of the Federated Garden Clubs of Vermont, and is a Master Gardener.

During her teaching career she was a member of many professional boards such as the Vermont Classical Language Association, Vermont Foreign Languages Association, Classical Association of New England, Northeast Conference of Foreign Languages, and the American Classical League where she served in various capacities.

Elaine taught Latin for 34 years in Vermont and Michigan, and enjoyed many awards such as the University of Vermont’s Outstanding Teacher Award, member of “Who’s Who,” the American Association of University Women’s Vermont Teacher of the Year Award, Yearbook Dedications, and recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship to study Etruscan Art in Italy. She also studied at The American Academy in Rome, as well as with The Vergilian Society in Turkey, Cyprus and Italy. Every other year, Elaine and Stephen would lead members of her Latin Club on a two week study trip to Italy, visiting Rome, Florence and Venice, with excursions to Pompeii and Pisa.

Elaine was a member of the First Congregational Church in Burlington. She enjoyed volunteering for the Pierson Library in Shelburne, where they made their home for 21 years. In addition, she did volunteer work for The Fleming Museum by taking art lessons for children to various libraries around the state. She also served as a Trustee on various Boards including the Pierson Library and the South Burlington Library.

Elaine has three stepchildren, Carrie Hopkins and husband, Brant, Liza Dates, and Stephen M. Dates; and five grand- children, Eric and Nathan Roy, Alyssa Garcia, Andi and Moses Dates. Services will be held on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, at 10 a.m. at the First Congregational Church in Burlington, followed by a celebration of her life immediately following at the church.

Published by The Burlington Free Press on Nov. 19, 2014.

Agnes Kerr Obituary:

Agnes M. Age 82, of Burlington, died on Tuesday, July 13, 2004, at her home. She was born in Hornell, NY on July 21, 1921, the daughter of the late John and Elizabeth Kerr.

Agnes graduated from NYACK College. She lived in Paris and studied at the Sorbonne prior to being assigned as a missionary under the Christian and Missionary Alliance to Vietnam for 5 years.

Agnes received a Bachelor’s degree in French from Columbia University Class of 1966. In 1970 she received her Masters degree in French from Middlebury College in Vermont. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Presidents Commission on Bilingual Education. Agnes taught French at Burlington High School from 1966 to 1984.

She served in many ways at the North Avenue Alliance Church where she was a member since 1966. Agnes was Chairman of the North Avenue Christian School and Library Committee, she was a member of the Christian Education Committee, and taught Sunday school. She was also a member of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.

She is survived by her sister, Barbara Bennett of Ft. Myers, FL; her longtime friend, Dorothy Ames of Burlington; her nieces and nephews, Carol J. Carlton, Bonnie Rochelle, Lorrie Healy, John S. Kerr, Richard J. Bennett, Jr., Cheryl A. Childs, Linda Hjelle, Rose Marie Schmitt, Barbara A. Velthuizen, and Theresa E. Kerr. She was predeceased by her brothers, Robert Kerr in 2002, and Charles Kerr in 2003. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, July 15, 2004 at 1:00 p.m. in the North Avenue Alliance Church, 901 No. Avenue, Burlington. Burial will be held on Friday at 1:00 p.m. in Woodlawn Cemetery, 1200 Walnut St., Elmira, New York. There will be no visiting hours. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her honor may be made to the Agnes Kerr Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o North Avenue Alliance Church, 901 No. Ave., Burlington, VT 05401. Arrangements are in the care of the Ready Funeral & Cremation Services South Chapel, 261 Shelburne Rd., Burlington, VT.”

Published by Star-Gazette on Jul. 15, 2004.

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