By Ainsley Shelley
Hometown Weekly Intern
The name Marty Salka is one that almost every single member of Medfield High School is familiar with. But with roughly a thousand people recognizing this man, who is Marty?
According to Salka himself, his job title is “Permanent Substitute and Cafeteria Constable,” but his role at MHS is far too large to fit into those two titles alone.
The list of tasks that Salka completes in a given day is endless. "I just do whatever they tell me to do, run here run there," Salka explained. "It doesn't matter, I'll do whatever," Salka continued. He went on to list just a few of his innumerable tasks: filing the notes for absentees and dismissals, notes after school, running detention every day, changing the tables from breakfast to lunch, and even cleaning up the halls after a student gets sick if the custodians aren't available.
Although it seems like Salka has always been the helping hand of the high school, he wasn't always a Permanent Sub/Cafeteria Constable. After attending St. Mary’s School in Dedham and later in Brookline, Salka went to St. John’s Seminary, where he studied to become a priest. After five years at St. John’s, Salka decided to change paths, leaving with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. From there, he went to Boston College night school in 1962 to earn his Master's in Counseling Psychology. During this time, he worked as both a substitute teacher in Boston and, multiple nights a week, as an employee of Rescue Incorporated, a Boston-based suicide hotline.
After earning his Masters in 1966, Salka began his long relationship with the town of Medfield. On the search for a more secure job, Salka became a Social Studies teacher at Medfield Junior High School. He stayed in this position for four years, teaching grades six through nine. From there, he moved on to become a guidance counselor at the middle school in 1970. Salka then transitioned to become a high school guidance counselor, the position he held from 1978 until his retirement in 2002.
His retirement ended almost as soon as it started, thanks to a phone call that Salka received that summer.
"Bob Maguire called and said ‘We lost our permanent sub, he quit. Can you fill in until we find somebody?’ I guess they haven't found anybody since 2002," Salka remarked.
Thus began his new role - one that would add even further to his MHS legacy. "Marty is an institution at Medfield," commented Medfield High School Assistant Principal Heather Mandosa.
Salka enjoys working as a substitute teacher the most out of all of his various past positions. "I just like being a sub,” Salka said when asked which job was his favorite. “I think being with the kids, it makes me younger. I mean, it keeps me young - I’m going to be 79 next month, so if you’re trying to stay ahead of teenagers, you have to keep your mind going.”
Although Salka isn't leaving any time soon, when he does, he hopes to leave an important legacy. Ultimately, Salka explained, he wants to be an example of the plaque under the pride flag that sits at the entrance to the school. The plaque reads as follows:
"A rainbow occurs when light is broken down into the color spectrum by a prism. Its beauty and grandeur have led to appearances in the mythology, folklore and artistic expression of cultures from every place and time. It has been revered as a connection between the material and the divine. Interpreted as an omen of good fortune and celebrated in art throughout history. In recent years, the rainbow has been adopted as a sign of diversity. Though many associate it with gay pride, the rainbow stands for all forms of variety and their importance in creating a dynamic, engaging environment. This rainbow [the flag hanging in the foyer] hangs in honor of every student and teacher at Medfield High School and the complexity he or she contributes to our school. We are better for having each of them here.”
Both the flag and plaque were donated by Harmony, a group Marty has long supported. He’s an outspoken supporter of not just the LBGTQ community, but diversity in all its forms.
In other words, MHS is better for having him here.