By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

HATBORO – When Mary Anne Henry reported to the third grade class of St. John Bosco School for her first teaching assignment 40 years ago, she played the part of confident teacher.

“I remember walking down the hallway – I had my pink sleeveless dress on, and I thought I was the cat’s meow – wanting everybody to think I was so self-assured, but I was an 18-year-old girl who was really afraid,” recalled Henry, who is now 58.

She so cherished those students she could barely contain herself on the last day of classes that year. “I sobbed. I just could not say goodbye to that group of kids. They were my first class.”

But they definitely weren’t her last.

This year marks Henry’s 40th year as a teacher at St. John Bosco. “I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “It’s a dream come true.”

Not only is the school the only place she’s taught, it’s also her alma mater. A 1964 alumna, Henry transferred to the Bucks County school in the third grade. Her teachers would come to know her as a well-mannered student who had a mischievous side, she said.

Henry has taught the first through sixth grades and, since 1986, kindergarten. “I love children,” she said. “They keep me young. They make me laugh. No two days are alike.”

She also recognizes the responsibility of molding young minds and hearts. “It’s my job to teach them how to read and how to write and how to do their numbers, but I’m also teaching them how to be good Christians.”

In January, Henry was inducted into the school’s hall of fame. “I really love the school. It’s like my home. I never say, ‘I’m going to work.’ I say, ‘I’m going to school.'”

After the bell rings, Henry assists with the school’s CARES (Children Are Receiving Extended Services) program. She is also a kindergarten instructor for St. John Bosco’s PREP (parish religious education program) one afternoon a week.

Henry’s students are certain to see her at church, as she belongs to St. John Bosco Parish. There, she is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and a member of the parish pastoral council.

The second of seven children of the late Edward and Dorothy Henry, she graduated from Archbishop Wood High School for Girls in Warminster in 1968 and in 1972 received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Gywnedd Mercy College in Gwynedd Valley.

Henry has a litmus test for her teaching skills. “If [the kindergarteners] can walk in my room at 8 in the morning and then walk out at 3 o’clock with a smile on their face both times, I consider that day a success.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or