Dolber said that BMUST has long enjoyed a congenial working relationship with the board and administration, but, he added, the state property-tax cap has tied district officials’ hands. There is less and less money to spend, meaning that the district must eliminate teachers and contain salaries.
“We’ve gotten to the point where you can make a decent living [as a teacher], which we should,” Dolber said. “For years and years, salaries were low. We’re also taxpayers and consumers, and we have kids.”
Dolber worries about the future of teaching, saying he does not want to see the education field return to the state it was in during the 1970s. “It was horrible,” he noted.
Throughout the years, Dolber said, his love of teaching has remained constant. “I like seeing the exchange of ideas, particularly in social studies,” he said. “I like when kids challenge me. I like that history is a story, and everything builds on what happened before, and when you can see kids make the connections between past, present and future, that’s worthwhile. That’s great.
“The most important thing in education,” he added, “is to have a great teacher.”
Dolber’s Merrick Avenue colleagues agree that he is among the best. “We joke, but Mike is almost like our department father,” said Christine Mahoney, who has taught social studies at Merrick Avenue for 14 years. “He looks out for all of us. He’s a role model not only for the kids, but all of us as teachers.”
Special-education teacher Deanne Junior said Dolber is “a true professional. He’s an excellent mentor. He has taught me many, many things about teaching, unions, what it is to be a professional.”
And Mike Dlugozima, who has taught English at Merrick Avenue for 16 years and is the school’s head BMUST representative, said, “Mike is the whole reason I got involved in the union. He’s very good at reaching out to people and inviting them in.”
Dolber said he has no plans after he retires, other than to sleep late, take a dream vacation to France and Italy with his wife, and spend more time with his adult children –– daughter, Jessica, a social worker in Boston, and son, Brian, a communications professor at SUNY Oneonta.