EAST BRIDGEWATER — Hockey, poetry, punk rock and teaching — what do they have in common? David Surette.
Surette is a longtime English teacher at East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School and he coached varsity hockey for seven years.
“We always say he’s like a renaissance man. He’s incredibly intelligent,” said Jamie Hulke, a colleague and East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School English teacher. “He breaks down those stereotypes for kids…you don’t have to fit in a box of being a nerd or writer or athlete.”
After teaching English for 17 years at East Bridgewater and 32 years in education, Surette is retiring. And while he may no longer be teaching, he intends to continue writing.
“I think I believe in [writing], I believe in the power of it,” Surette said.
Throughout Surette’s life, writing found its way into his life in various forms. Prior to teaching, Surette was a manager for his brother’s punk rock band, where he also co-wrote lyrics and he authored five published books and several poems.
“I just think with Dave that he’s done so many great things with his life, and even though he’s retiring I know he’s going to do so many great things in the future…we’re lucky to have him as a friend and colleague,” said Matthew Savage, an East Bridgewater Junior/Senior High School English teacher. “Dave is extremely witty, kind, down to earth. With our colleagues he’s always the smartest person in the room but he won’t let you know that.”
For Surette, his descent into teaching was natural step. When reflecting on his career, Surette cannot pinpoint a singular moment that stands apart but rather a series of repeated moments he appreciates.
“Teaching just seems day-to-day and year-to-year, it doesn’t seem to have giant moments,” Surette said. “I think it’s the moment when the kids buy in. Whether it’s a book or whether we’re writing a story, when they have that moment where they understand it or they think it’s valuable or it just touches them.”
Surette is known for requiring students each year to write a personal narrative and a poem.
“I feel like that’s kind of what he’s known for and really turns kids into writers, which is incredible because that’s something that’s really hard to do,” Hulke said. “One girl at graduation said I never felt smart until I was in his class.”
Surette plans to continue writing and reading in his retirement.
“He’s this incredible author, but in his teaching life we don’t really get to see that side of him,” Hulke said. “I think his voice is really authentic. A lot of people describe him as not really having the voice of a poet. He has a thick Boston accent…his voice and poetry really sound like he’s telling you a story.”
Surette said while he’s accustom to saying goodbye to students each year, upon retirement he will miss his colleagues.
Staff reporter Amanda Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org