Teacher Feature: Eileen Mahoney


Collin Wynn, Contributing Writer

Eileen Mahoney knew from a very young age she wanted to be a teacher. Growing up in the 1960’s in Lawrence, MA, after a long day of school, which she loved, she and her friends would play school for hours until dinner time. Sometimes, Ms. Mahoney enjoyed playing the role of principal, but her true passion has always been being in the classroom.  Her teaching methods, and what first began her interest in teaching, were inspired by Sister Mary Elizabeth, her first grade teacher who “treated each of her pupils as though she were her own child.”

After moving to New Hampshire, Ms. Mahoney started piano lessons. Instead of simply practicing, she doubled her practice hours by setting up a music school for her stuffed animals, each with its own half hour lesson. Middle school and high school helped solidify her teaching aspirations. As she shared with me, “I always wanted to be a teacher.  Interspersed were dreams of being a marine biologist and astronomer, but it always came back to teaching.”  Sitting at her high school graduation, she remembers thinking how happy she felt knowing that her future included many more high school graduations, only she would sit on the other side of the stage.

Although student teaching wasn’t the experience she had hoped it would be, spending the year following college graduation working in an office and in retail solidified her resolve to give teaching another try. Shortly after her father’s death in May of 1984, she realized that it was time to make a change; she took her first teaching job, summer school at Salem High School. After being observed by Salem High’s vice principal, she was offered a full time English teaching position that fall. Although it was difficult teaching students only four years younger than herself, she jokes that she was “asked to the senior prom twice.”

After two years at Salem High School, she was R.I.F.ed (reduction in force). At first, she was devastated by the news, but being the natural optimist, Eileen soon recognized the unfavorable incident as an opportunity for growth. She took a job teaching at Pelham Middle School, and spent the next twelve years teaching English at the middle school level. One of her favorite memories from that time was the annual Victorian festival involving food, dancing costumes, and games- the culminating project of her A Christmas Carol unit.

After the birth of her first child, she realized that in teaching full time, she was neither the teacher nor the mother she wanted to be. The next ten years were spent raising her three boys, including many volunteer hours at their schools. When her youngest son entered first grade, she knew it was time to return to the classroom. Her best hope was realized when she was hired by Goffstown High School, and would enjoy the same calendar and schedule as her boys.

Nine years later she still looks forward to going to work every day. Her colleagues describe her as “strong, kind, loyal, and dependable.” Eileen describes herself as “determined, hard-working, a prioritizer, and compassionate.” When I asked her how she wanted her teaching career to be remembered, she responded with “I would like to be known as a person who cared deeply about others, and who helped others see the value in themselves.”