The faculty gathered one Saturday evening in early May to bid adieu to Howard Saltzman, who is retiring after 31 years of training young minds, adding levity to e-mail chains, his classes, faculty meetings, tough moments and bright moments alike. To say he will be missed is an understatement.
Attended by about 160 well-wishers, the party extraordinaire was moved to the Saratoga gym to accommodate the crowd. Friend Pat Walsh, LS teacher, ran the show and Brian Larsen of the performing arts department emceed the evening. Chris Nikoloff, head of school, spoke briefly to open the festivities and the parade of well-wishers and gifts, both gag and other, began.
“Howard himself was incredibly touched by the whole evening,” said fellow teacher Elise Schwartz, who helped organize the event. “He was just thrilled from the beginning to have everyone there together in one room. Then, he was overwhelmed by the speeches and the gifts. There were tears in his eyes at many points during the evening. His wife, Susan, was also enormously touched,” Schwartz said.
An amazing slideshow was created by colleague Lisa Diffenderfer. “She collected quite an array of pictures of Howard from over the years and had a running slideshow going along with music that he picked out,” Schwartz added. “There were hilarious pictures of Howard from the beginning of his career up to today. It was a beautiful slideshow and they even showed it again at the next faculty meeting.” No party is complete without food and, as usual, executive chef Steve Martin outdid himself. “Chef Steve, as always, put on an amazing spread,” said Schwartz. “Howard has nothing but high praise for him and is always amazed by Chef Steve and his crew.
“Great love for Howard was felt everywhere in the room. He was thankful to the school for hosting this event and for allowing not only his colleagues but also all of his family and close friends to attend as well. Howard’s roast was so funny and the presentation of the memorial urinal left everyone in hysterics!”’
Saltzman ended the evening with a gracious speech. His gratitude was apparent and he was overwhelmed by the love in the room.
Parent and former Harker employee Mary Jo Townzen sent this accolade: “I am fortunate to be able to say that Howard has taught all three of my children, Ryan MS ’02, Troy MS ’04 and Samantha, Gr. 3. Samantha has had the opportunity to have Mr. Saltzman as a homeroom teacher in this, his last year of teaching. Howard’s timing is impeccable. I choose to believe he waited until now to retire in order to make sure he personally shuttled all of the Townzen children through. Howard will always hold a place in my heart for all he’s done over the years for me and for my family and Samantha wants Howard to know, ‘He’s the best teacher ever!’”