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Moving for the first time

Forward-thinking teacher and human rights advocate chooses Linden Ponds

Created date

March 28th, 2014
Mary Pottle stands in front of a furniture piece made by students in the Braintree, Mass., school where she taught. Atop the piece are gifts from her travels in Africa.
Mary Pottle stands in front of a furniture piece m

African statues, handmade wall hangings, and human rights and teaching awards adorn Mary Pottle’s Linden Ponds apartment home, telling stories of her travels and volunteerism. Though her human rights work has taken her to faraway places and unfamiliar territory, Mary considers her move to Linden Ponds a first.

Mary had remained in her childhood house in Weymouth, Mass., until she began thinking about a move to Linden Ponds. “I had never moved; I had no idea what was involved,” she says.

Definitely doable

Like her journeys before, Mary’s move to Linden Ponds was for others as well as for herself. She was injured in a car accident in 2009 and had a mini-stroke, which forced her to rethink her situation. “It made me realize I wasn’t 20 anymore,” she says.  

Mary visited Linden Ponds and remembers, “I just felt comfortable here.” She chose a one-bedroom apartment home with a den. Personal Moving Consultant Lynne Ford visited Mary in her Weymouth house and helped determine which furniture would fit in her new home. 

Mary says the staff members at Linden Ponds were a “tremendous help. They made me feel it was very doable.”

Mary counted on a Linden Ponds-recommended real estate professional, who helped sell her house—a six-room bungalow—in two months. Mary gave many of her extra belongings to a local shelter. For the items she brought with her in the October move, Mary chose Linden Ponds-recommended Burkardt Brothers Moving and Storage. Mary says they were “excellent,” adding, “I was very happy with them.”  

Moved to teach

Though much of her life has been centered in Massachusetts, Mary’s teaching and advocacy work are far-reaching. From the time she was four years old, taking it upon herself to teach a custodian of her family’s church, Mary knew education would be her life’s work. But her path was lined with surprises and challenges, beginning with her own education.  

Despite excellent marks in her Weymouth high school, Mary was turned away from the first college she approached, told she would be taking a man’s spot. 

Not one to balk against naysayers, Mary joined the predominantly male class of 1948 at Northeastern University, studying mechanical engineering with “all the science and math I could get,” she says. Though she wanted to teach, she steered away from liberal arts schools and chose a more rigorous program. She was the second woman to graduate from the engineering school.  

Upon graduation, Mary went to work in the Boston office of Allis-Chalmers, a manufacturing company. It was an eight-year diversion from her teaching plan but an opportunity to pay off her school loans. One evening while out with friends, Mary found herself in a heated conversation about education, unknowingly with the superintendent of the Auburn, Mass., school system. 

Mary had been set up by her friends, who told her, “You should be dealing with people, not things.”  

Changing wrong to right

With help from the superintendent, Mary accepted a role as a third grade teacher in Auburn and then moved on to the Braintree school system, where she taught in the accelerated math and science program. Though she spent 30 years in Braintree, Mary’s work extended much further.

Beginning in 1965, Mary spent ten summers in a small farming community in Alabama, “causing trouble,” by advocating for integration and voting rights for African-Americans. Mary’s volunteerism was in the spirit of human rights, she says. 

“If I see something that I don’t see as right, I should try to do something about it,” she says. 

She was just one of thousands who went south with similar intentions.

In Massachusetts during the school year, Mary became an advisor for the Metco Program, a state initiative with the goal of expanding educational opportunities and diversity by bringing students from cities to participating schools. 

Between her teaching in Braintree and trips to Alabama, Mary traveled to Zimbabwe and Senegal with her church and sponsored the education of children who came to the U.S. for education. 

Open community

Since retiring, Mary has been involved in numerous charitable organizations. Now at Linden Ponds, she continues to bowl once a week with friends and plans to join the community’s diversity club. She also frequents the on-campus fitness center and indoor swimming pool.  

Of her new community, Mary says: “I have never been any place where people are so friendly. I am just totally impressed with the openness of the people.”