Retiring SWMHS teacher has been ‘icon for decades’

SAYREVILLE – After three decades of service to the Sayreville School District, a longtime high school teacher is retiring from his position.

On Nov. 16, the Board of Education honored the retirement of Sayreville War Memorial High School (SWMHS) teacher James Craft. His retirement will be effective on Jan. 1, 2022.

“Where does one begin to collect and sum up such an amazing person and educator that James Craft is?” Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe said. “The career that this extraordinary man has had is simply legendary. The high school staff, administration and, most importantly, the students are heartbroken to see Mr. Craft retire as he has been a SWMHS icon for decades.”

According to Labbe, Craft has taught in the district for 30 years.

“During those 30 years, Mr. Craft’s exceptional contributions in the classroom and in the performing arts arena has put him in an elite status within the Sayreville community,” the superintendent said. “Over the years, Mr. Craft has been an asset to the school district as a teacher, play director, choral director, musical director, rock band director, district technical director, stage production technical director, mentor and a friend to all, including me.

“When visiting his classroom at the high school or attending one of his many performances that he directs, Mr. Craft’s incredible leadership, talent, attention to detail and perfectionism is evident in all facets. He is a man of integrity, selflessness and a passion for what he does every day,” he continued. “The entire district will miss and never forget the positive mark he has left at our high school, on our district and within this community.”

Board Vice President John Walsh shared his experiences with Craft.

“I got to work with him here when I was a student,” he said. “It was his first year, my senior year, and I remember since the day he got here, he’s always worked with our kids. That’s something I always look at. If you pass this school at almost any time, his car was here because he was always either involved with the play or a chorus or just constantly working with other kids.

“He’s a super generous guy,” Walsh continued. “When I was a teacher, he was a mentor to me and when I was a student, he was a mentor to me. I was in one of the rock bands with him here and even though he sings way better, he let me be the lead singer. He’ll be missed.”