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Long-ago Students Honor Favorite Scarsdale Teacher

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – It's not unusual for students to have a crush on a favorite teacher. It's not that common, though, for them to make that crush public. And when that crush is shared by nine former students for a teacher they shared more than 50 years ago, it might be considered extraordinary.

Those nine students came together Friday afternoon at Fox Meadow School in Scarsdale to honor their former fifth-grade teacher, Jean Lutz, with a bench dedicated in her name next to the playground swings behind the school.

Vicki Aranow Feiner, one of the organizers of Friday's tribute, remembers Lutz, now 97 years old, as "passionate about everything she taught us." Feiner said Lutz was "nurturing, gentle, kind, a lady," and "perceptive and accepting of us as individuals."

"She gave me the confidence to be the first to admit that I didn't like the book I had reported on for a book report, and she was sensitive and caring and proactive about dealing with a powerful girls' clique," Feiner said.

Lutz, who could not attend the ceremony, taught at Fox Meadow after teaching at Ethical Culture in Brooklyn, Feiner said, adding that she recalls that Lutz came to Fox Meadow in 1952 and retired in the early 1970s.

"Besides all in the curriculum, she read us Greek mythology, 'The Illiad' and 'The Odyssey,' and made them adventure stories and had us memorize Wordsworth's "Daffodils". Most of us can still recite that poem."

Current Fox Meadow Principal Duncan Wilson spoke to the group in the school's former library before heading outside for the dedication. He pointed out that the state has recently adopted standards for what it calls "highly effective teachers." But putting emphasis on quality teachers is nothing new, he said.

He said, "You guys are all here because of a highly effective teacher who impacted your lives."

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