At this time of year, high school students are thinking of one thing: summer break. It's no different for the nearly 1,000 students at South Burlington High School.
Dominick Marabella is the keeper of attendance, making sure the kids have a reason for being absent. In the old days, you might have called him the truant officer. No more.
"But those days are gone," he said. "Very few kids aren't where they're supposed to be."
The 85-year-old walks for miles a day, from the gym to the classrooms.
"And Quinn isn't here. OK," he said.
Dominick grew up in Massachusetts, one of 10 children of Italian immigrants.
"My dad never went to school a day in his life in Italy or the United States and he used to sign his name with an X," Dominick said.
His dad was there when Dominick got a master's degree.
"It was the first time he shed a tear," Dominick recalled, "and I couldn't figure it out at the time."
Dominick fell in love with Vermont. His first teaching job was at Lyndon Teachers College, now Lyndon State College. After a few years at Burlington High School, he went to South Burlington. Dominick has been in education for 57 years.
Reporter Joe Carroll: How have you changed as an educator from when you first started until now?
Dominick Marabella: Oh, I was a terrible guy when I first started.
He says while an assistant principal at what's now Fred Tuttle Middle School, he got the nickname "The Enforcer."
"Well, I was getting to the point where, you know, if my day wasn't going well, it was someone else's fault. It was the kids," Dominick said. "And then finally one day, I said, you know, maybe it isn't the kids."
Dominick is now positive, not punitive. And he says it works.
Another change from when he first started: the school is now 20 percent nonwhite.
"What you have in here are mostly freshmen, no they are all juniors and I'm looking forward to next year," Dominick noted.
And you might be surprised to hear this, Dominick says the kids today are more supportive and accepting of each other.
"We don't have fights anymore," he said. "That's not to say tomorrow somebody will say, 'but I can't remember a fight.'"
"You know, everybody can sit around and say like, 'Kids these days!' And Dominick will never miss an opportunity to say, 'Yeah, kids these days are a lot better than they used to be,'" Principal Patrick Burke said.
"My principal, Pat Burke, says I'm living the dream," Dominick said. "And I am, you know."
Living a dream and a yearbook picture with the graduating class. Only fitting for a man who taught himself to be a better person.
Dominick has three children of his own.
PO Box 4508