MADISON, NJ - When Diane Schulthes was hired this year to join the Madison School District, she did some quick math before she officially started on July 1.

The director of curriculum and instruction calculated that 33 teachers, secretaries, buildings and grounds personnel and teaching assistants represented 891 years of experience in Madison schools. The group averaged 27 years of service to the district.

Chatham Borough resident Edilberto Florez was one of the 33 longtime employees. He has worked in the buildings and grounds department for 26 years.

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"To me, in one district to have that much dedication to service is amazing," Schulthes said. 

That gave her the idea for a celebration that took place Thursday, celebrating the 33 employees with 20-plus years of service to Madison Schools. 

"If we don't have people to sign purchase orders and prepare the building, we can't teach the children," Schulthes said. "So everyone being recognized here today are the buildings and grounds, secretaries, teachers, the teaching assistants. It takes a village."

Teachers Stacy Snider and Caryn Elefante started the ceremonies off with a well-received duet rendition (see video) of the national anthem, followed by Madison High band members entering the auditorium and marching through the aisles as they played.

Followng his remarks, Superintendent Dr. Michael Rossi introduced each honoree and each was presented with a gift.

Madison Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Rossi Jr. mentions the honorees during his "Definition of Great Schools" opening remarks on the first day back for teachers in the district

Here is a list of the Madison School District staff honored for 20-plus years of service Thursday:

Joseph Cecala, B&G; Robert Coke, B&G; Steven Cosmen, B&G; Geoffrey Degroot, B&G; Edilberto Florez, B&G; Willie Gaskins, B&G; Herbert Locket, B&G; Guillermo Lopez, B&G; Kevin Carroll, CAS; Susan Corea, CAS; Mary Gibbons, CAS; Susan Klein, CAS; Marie McGuire, CAS; Belinda Pinckney, CO; Mary Lou Yocco, CO; Thomas Bentz, MHS; John Connolly, MHS; Ann Marie Davies, MHS; Felicia Fellows, MHS; Leslie Gentile, MHS; Robert Grundfest, MHS; Richard Lapierr, MHS; Suzanne Monkemeier, MHS; Marcella Prill, MHS; Carole Rawding, MHS; Michael Silvestri, MHS;Janice Corte, MJS; Linda Damiano, MJS; Joyce Kirkland, MJS; Marie Pehowic, MJS; James Stricchiola, TJS; Sherrie Taylor, TJS; Beverly DeFabiis, TJS/KRS/CAS.