Teachers and faculty from bus drivers to librarians and psychologists were honored and thanked at the 28th Annual Retirement and Recognition Ceremony in the courtyard of Scarsdale High School on June 4. Michael McGill gave a humorous opening by congratulating the groupon completing "what seemed to be the longest school year in human history."
"This is a building made up of very different people that all have significance in the development of our children," said School Board member Jill Spieler. Board of Education President Liz Guggeinheimer said, "This ceremony is a celebration of the faculties' spirit and commitment to children and the community. Whether it is a patient smile from a bus driver in the morning or an inspirational word from a teacher or the listening ear of a guidance counselor, whatever you do really makes a difference in the lives of Scarsdale students." This faculty has "imparted the strength and curiosity to students that they need to grow and thrive," she added, and although the ceremony did "not recognize everyone as an individual, we all know that everyone adds individual value, ethics and kindness that makes this place something we are proud of." All of the faculty has "earned the admiration and respect that we feel towards them" and "on behalf of the administration, Board of Education, the community and all the children you've influenced, we thank you," said Jill Spieler.
It was a touching ceremony, with heartfelt speeches given by Superintendent Michael McGill and Board of Education members Liz Guggenhiemer, Jill Spieler, Mary Beth Gose and Suzanne Seiden, each of whom thanked different groups of faculty, ordered by their length of employment in Scarsdale.
The first group to be recognized was 13 employees who have been with the district for 20 years. They ranged across many professional areas in the district. There was a psychologist, a computer aid, accounting clerks, custodians, a bus driver and many teachers, all of whom, according to Spieler, "made a great impact shaping today's world as we know it here in Scarsdale schools." These faculty members "worked in a professional manner, helped students understand the ever changing world around them and provided valuable mentorship to newer colleagues." Each of them has "been a leader of schools for the last 20 years and helped facilitate the children's ability to learn, each in their own way. The work they do is priceless and cannot be measured." The 13 honorees are Kathy Basso, Carmela Guerney, Sharon DeLorenzo, Dina Hofstetter, Peter McKenna, Kimberly Papatrista, Anthony Smith, Andrea Tripodi, and Kathy Weixen who were each called up and thanked.
The next group, introduced by Board of Education member Mary Beth Gose, has worked 25 years in the district. "This group of 14 includes teachers, a custodian, secretaries, a principal and an assistant principal. "Through passion, strength, wisdom and experience you have served as role models to generations of students," said Gose. Each of them "has been a critical part in the development of thousands of students." Each day, by ensuring their health and safety while teaching and guiding them, this group "has helped each child to develop their full potential." Gose noted that we are "deeply appreciative of their service" and thanked Steven Boyer, Ronnie Braun, John Dean, Joan Farella, Georgia Geyozzi, Barbara Hatcher, Catherine Inello, Rene Lund, Michael McDermott, Helen Pasternack, Sue Peppers, Oksana Slywka, Dominque Starpoli and Patricia Wessel for their dedication, commitment and service to this district and our community.
Susanne Seiden, Vice President of the Board of Education, was given "great pleasure to honor the "small but exceptional staff who has served our children for 30 years." Together, this group has devoted 120 years to the students of Scarsdale. They have imparted "pearls of wisdom to our children" and we "appreciate the lunch periods you spent in book clubs and the smiles you give the students in the hallways of our schools." On behalf of the board members, Susanne expressed her gratitude to Patricia Marwell, Anita Occhiuto, Otilli Blateri and Michael Quinton for their "dedication to students, schools and this community."
Liz Guggenhiemer spoke again on behalf of those who have served Scarsdale Schools for 35 years. In 1978, this group of 5 "had become an essential part of the Scarsdale fabric." Everyone in this group "continued to work to make sure that there was vitality, inspiration and learning in schools, offices and programs." All of them have "integrated new technology in to their work and navigated a number of challenges that face schools such as mandates, globalized learning and local opinion." They brought "compassion, professionalism, energy and dedication" and "the children are better off because of them." They make somebody proud to say that they are from Scarsdale. Congratulations to Barbara Capulli, Catherine D'Orazio, Bruce Henry, Lucil Manganiello and Howard Rodstein, each of whom is celebrating his/her 35-year milestone:
"When we get to 40 years, we get a little more personal with achievements," noted Spieler. Usually, not that many people are here for 40 years and "we are excited and proud that someone would want to stay with our district for so long," said Liz. There are two people in this category: Special Education teacher Bob Caie, and Social Studies teacher Gwen Johnson. Joe Vaughn, while not present, shared a fitting tribute to Bob. In his words, "When Bob began teaching in Scarsdale, he was a business teacher, but then decided to go back to school to earn a masters degree in Special Education. Bob chose Special Education to work with students who are in the most need of help, an area that Bob excelled in providing. Always constant. Always supportive, Bob knew exactly when a kid needed a push or a comforting hand on his shoulder. Bob has been the guiding light that has allowed so many students to be successful in the challenging environment of high school. " Although his time of service to Scarsdale is at an end, "Bob's commitment to the well being of others, as exemplified by charity work in the high school and wider world will continue," said Guggenheimer. Next, John Harrison, Chair of Social Studies Department lauded Johnson saying, "Gwen has been a tremendous force in the Social Studies department ever since she arrived. The most remarkable act in her early career was leading a student's field trip to Washington D.C. to watch the Watergate trials. Having taught less than a year in the high school, Gwen led the trip so students could watch history in the making. She brought an undying energy, passion and a commitment to getting students out of the classroom and in to world. She brought students to China, Japan and Cambodia. And this year, after graduation, Gwen will again lead a group of 23 SHS students to Cambodia. She is a tireless promoter of world history and has spearheaded efforts to widen the Social Studies curriculum. She is always looking for ways to have students see history from multiple perspectives. Gwen is the embodiment of the committed educator and has left an indelible mark on SHS. Throughout the last 40 years, Bob and Gwen have demonstrated their commitment to teaching, love of children, commitment to colleagues and dedication to Scarsdale's community of learning."
Superintendent Michael McGill shared some of his own thoughts on a few retiring educators:
On Maureen Ball- "In an age of technology, the work of human hands still reveals and animates the soul. To share that understanding with the young is a gift to them and the giver."
On Diane Celentano- "Passionate and articulate about work. Her warmth, intelligence and generosity were palpable, always."
On Karen Cook- "Plant seeds in the dark earth and water them. You nurture them and give them love. They grow taller and stronger towards the sun. That is a kindergartener."
On Catherine D'Orazio- "A school treasure and the best ambassador to the community a principal could ask for. High praise indeed for a most praiseworthy person."
On Phillis DiBianco- "A champion of education for tomorrow. She fiercely defended a vision of old and new technologies blended in an integrated learning environment. "
On Cora Five- "A consummate professional, deeply knowledgeable about craft and pupil. She is a teacher, a teacher of teachers, an author and a national education leader."
On Neil Ginsberg- "His good cheer, endless energy and critical intelligence have been the soul of SHS for 39 years. He enlarged pupils' minds, their worlds and their lives."
On Jeanette Johnson- "Her warmth, nurturing personality and deep sensitivity to developmental needs of young children have made her a model kindergarten teacher. And all this with a good cheer and a smile."
On Leonard Kerson- "Every school needs a somewhat acerbic curmudgeon. He adds seasoning to the human stew. But blend to the spice with genuine care and lasting relationships, and you have a nourishing dish."
On Mary Anne Kingston- "A book is the axe for the frozen sea inside us. And for many years, your work has been to find an axe to fit the hand of every student. No small task, no small accomplishment."
On Mark Krauss- "A man of faith in human goodness. Your patience and hard work have certainly paid off for your students."
On Beverley Lorie- "The film The King's Speech portrayed the inner pain and outer struggles of a man who had no words. Like Lionel Logue, you give voice and hope and strength to the disempowered."
On Michael Mendelson- "He brings exceptional mastery to what may be the most difficult job in the district. He may be paddling like hell beneath the surface, but what we see is geniality, style and accomplishment."
On Adrienne Meyer- "The theatre is a place of mystery, magic and imagination. You open that world to your pupils, but more importantly you give them insight in to themselves."
On Zulmira Muzzio- "You bring warmth, generosity and the openness of native Brazil to everything. Your pupils become more able scholars but your shared humanity helps them to become fuller human beings."
On Helen Pasternack- "A fellow child of the 1960's but much younger than I am. Passionate, political and deeply engaged in the creative arts. Most of all, a humanist and an authentic person with a vibrant presence in your pupil's lives."
On Marilyn Peak- "Reserved and quiet by nature, you've capably and unassumingly transported Scarsdale's children to and from their appointed places. We rightly applaud you for providing this vital service to our children."
On MariEmmi Pozzouli- "Known widely as the kindest and happiest teacher on the Edgewood faculty, she is a gentle source of support for students, a valued colleague and a selfless mainstay of the Edgewood family."
On Dawn Rivellini- "Food nourishes both the physical being and soul. Your work has been to cultivate the school garden, but in so even more, your students' bodies, spirits and minds."
On Lorraine Rocco- "Nobody knows who was responsible for the burnt popcorn incident that emptied the high school. What I will say is that if anyone needs a reliable, sincere, kind and friendly co-worker I can offer Loraine as a reference."
On Pam Sparks- "She came late to teaching, bringing with her a maturity, wisdom and ferocious work ethic that informs all she does. Her shared sense of fun has livened the school and her dedication has deeply enriched her students."
On John Voss- "Music heals us. It tells us how we feel. It lifts us up to higher ground. He has built a program that has given two generations of students that gift. We thank him."
Superintendent Michael McGill then shared some closing words: "Education is about the mind and spirit. It is the work of cultivating full human beings. We are here to celebrate that work. You have left what you came to better than you found it. You have given your best effort down to the last moment. It is said that a teacher affects eternity. Those things you have imagined live on in the students you have touched. Teachers are eternal."
He continued, "Thank you to Joan Weber and the entire event committee for putting this ceremony together. Also thanks to the Scarsdale High School Jazz Band, directed by Jason Noble, for performing. But most of all, thank you to the newly retired teachers and faculty who combined have dedicated centuries to Scarsdale Schools, and in doing so helped thousands of students develop and realize their potential."
You can watch the ceremony on the Scarsdale Cable Channel by clicking here.