Four veteran staffers from Scarsdale High School announced their retirements at the April 22 Board of Education Meeting and were lauded by Joan Weber, SHS Principal Kenneth Bonamo and SHS PTA President Jaqui Walter. Marion Polsky, the school's solo Latin teacher was called a "passionate advocate for her subject who transformed an archaic language into an engaging and vital program." Principal Kenneth Bonamo said "she brought Latin to life," and "was a one person academic discipline for nearly 30 years at the high school." He cited her "infectious enthusiasm for her subject," and wished her well in her plans to "learn Hebrew, write a novel and work on a literary project."
Polsky said that her class has been "both a sanctuary and laboratory," and when asked what she will miss most when she leaves the school, she replied, "it's easy to say – my students." One of Polsky's three-year students, Phillip Brand commented on the impact she made as a teacher, saying "Dr. Polsky will not just leave the Scarsdale High School community with the reputation as an extremely qualified and knowledgable Latin teacher. Having built the Latin program at the school from the ground up, Dr. Polsky finds great enjoyment in fostering an appreciation for languages and in getting to know her students, some of whom have taken latin with her for several years, genuinely well. I feel so fortunate to have come to the high school while Dr. Polsky had still been teaching and had the opportunity to be in her class for 3 years. I feel as if she's a teacher, guidance counselor, and pretty cool lady, all in one. The school will really miss her."
Another thirty-year veteran, math teacher Lynn Potter will also retire this year. In addition to teaching, for the past three years Potter has served as chair of the SHS Math Department. Weber called Potter a "deliberate leader and colleague." Speaking of her experience here, Potter said, "the Scarsdale educational experience has literally been my life for more than three decades," and said her "rewarding career has extended to all aspects of my life." Principal Bonamo called Potter a "master teacher, superior administrator and a fantastic friend to the Scarsdale community." He said that Potter "inspires with energy, enthusiasm and skill," and that she is "recognized as a brilliant teacher." He also said that she was a "champion at innovative curriculum and integrating technology to enhance mathematics instruction."
As Ms. Potter fought back tears, her husband asked to make a few comments and told the group that he met Lynn "32 years ago in this very room where she and I were proctoring a math exam. We got to talking, we got married, and we raised her two kids who were then 6 and 8 years old." He said, "Of the 90 years I spent on earth she made the last 32 the best."
Speaking for the high school PTA, Jaqui Walter said, "The Scarsdale community is fortunate to have dynamic, engaged faculty. It is bittersweet to say goodbye. These teachers have had a profound impact on their students. They fostered a love of their subjects and genuinely cared about their students and supported them so that each could exceed." She said, "We are eternally grateful," and quoted Henry Adams who said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
The retirements of Adrienne Meyer and Robert Caie were also announced that evening and below are remarks about all the retiring faculty from Principal Kenneth Bonamo. The resignation of Athletic Director Robert Siracuse was announced at the meeting. Siracuse came to SHS in September, 2011.
(From Principal Kenneth Bonamo)
Dr. Marion Polsky: It can be a challenge to bring Latin to life in a classroom, perhaps now more than ever. It is also a challenge to be a one-person academic discipline. Marion Polsky has met both challenges adroitly for nearly 30 years at the high school.
From 1981-1984, Dr. Polsky directed the "Latin Cornerstone Project" under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The purpose of the project was to introduce Latin to elementary-school students in diverse settings in New York City. Based on this work, Marion published a teaching series for elementary-school Latin, which is still going strong though two editions.
Marion has taken advantage of being the only Latin teacher by developing close relationships with her students, many of whom study with her for most of their high-school careers. They cite her infectious enthusiasm for her subject, her inspiration and engagement, and her energy and intelligence. Nearly all of them speak of the connections Marion makes between Latin and our modern life, and how Marion shares her vast knowledge of all aspects of ancient Rome with her students. One student said, "Although this class has been quite academically challenging, it has taught me skills far beyond the realm of Latin. I will miss having a class that always feels like home."
When I met Marion for the first time last spring, her passion and dedication were instantly clear. After some initial pleasantries, Marion set about ensuring that I fully understood the importance of the Latin program, the fact that she was personally responsible for student recruitment and retention, and her overall concern for the program. I think I was able to convince her that as a former language teacher myself, I did in fact value the program and would ensure it remained vibrant under my watch. I must admit tonight that that task becomes a little bit harder with Marion's departure.
When Sylvie Corten, the chair of the World Languages department, asked Marion what she will miss most about Scarsdale, she said, "It's easy to say...my students. The classroom has been both a sanctuary and a laboratory for me. The creativity and enthusiasm of the students have made me a better linguist and a better teacher, without question." Marion shared the joy of celebrating weddings, childbirths, and graduations with her former students.
A true scholar, Marion plans to learn Biblical Hebrew, writing a coming-of-age novel with a mythological theme, and working on a literacy project in New York City. We wish her well in these endeavors, and hope that the joy of teaching stays with her throughout. We congratulate Dr. Marion Polsky.
Lynn Potter is a master teacher, superior administrator, and a fantastic friend to the Scarsdale High School community. For more than 30 years, she has been an inspiration to her students and colleagues on so many levels. Lynn is as adept in teaching elementary and skills level mathematics as she is at teaching abstract concepts in the upper level math courses.
Lynn has been a stupendous mathematics teacher and a key member of the Scarsdale High School math department. At every level, she inspires students with her energy, enthusiasm, and teaching skill. She has served as both an official and unofficial mentor to so many of her colleagues throughout her career. Lynn is recognized by her students as a brilliant mathematics teacher, and they equally appreciate Lynn's gentle demeanor and genuine caring. Lynn's colleagues are always in awe of her creative lessons and innovative methods to motivate difficult topics, and they are especially impressed with the manner in which she goes out of her way to share her ideas. They are, and we are, inspired by her relentless enthusiasm.
Lynn inspires her students in her teaching and by creating a welcoming environment, including Music Fridays and the many sayings hanging in her classroom. She also remains on top of current trends in her profession, traveling to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics many times—just this month, in fact—to get materials and ideas not only for herself but for her colleagues as well. When the need arose for an interim math chair, Lynn agreed to take over the reins because of her willingness to "take one for the team." This was deeply appreciated by the department, and Lynn's leadership took the department to new heights. Lynn has been a champion of innovative curriculum revisions and a strong proponent of incorporating technology to enhance mathematics instruction. She developed STI courses which were embraced by nearly all members of both the high school and middle school Math departments. The communication among the math faculty and the exchange of ideas that takes place at these workshops has been tremendous, and has been the impetus for many positive changes in our curriculum and teaching methods. Lynn has established a deep and genuine feeling of family within the math department, and she has become its revered matriarch. A tribute to Lynn's talent, dedication, and administrative style is that parents, students, and teachers all see Lynn as their personal advocate.
On a personal note, Lynn has helped me from the start in my first year as principal of the high school, offering advice and sharing her astute observations. I am so grateful that Lynn was in my corner this year, and I wish we had more time together.
Lynn Potter has served the Scarsdale school community both as a teacher and as department chair with distinction. Although her daily presence will be greatly missed, the impact she has left on our math department culture will be ever-present.
We wish Lynn many years of health and happiness in her retirement.
Adrienne Meyer: In her time here, Adrienne Meyer has taught hundreds of students, directed 11 musicals and 11 straight plays, produced 11 acting class Revues, and mentored approximately 40 young student directors. Some of those individuals have gone on to receive a BFA or MFA in theater, performed and directed with touring companies, off-off Broadway, off Broadway, as well as on the Great White Way.
Adrienne possesses teaching and nurturing skills that has benefitted every student in her classes. She has the ability to pull out the inner actor in even the more reserved adolescent. She can coax the shy individual to express themselves in creative and new ways. She has the demeanor to encourage, support, and develop communicative skills in ways that only acting and theater can. It is astounding to see a student actor respond to Adrienne's question about their character and to follow with, "Now how are you going to show that to the audience?" This is an interchange that exists only in the real time art of drama. The growth that occurs in that instant is extraordinary to observe, and can only happen at the hands of a theatrical artist like Adrienne.
She allows her students to put themselves into their roles. She has the innate ability to lead without telling, and to guide a youngster without dictating. That is truly the art of teaching. When I was in Adrienne's classroom earlier this year, I was in awe of her ability to effortlessly draw out emotions and anecdotes from her students in getting them to explore characters. To be candid, a few of the stories that the students shared were uncomfortable in that they revealed rather unpleasant emotions. Where others may have reacted with shock or otherwise discouraged such revelations, Adrienne's manner with the students made them feel at ease. She used the information shared to help the students learn—about acting and about themselves.
We wish Adrienne only the best in her future endeavors, and know that she can now spend more time on her true passion—her children and grandchildren. They have shared her with us long enough and we need to let her go so they can have her back.
Bob Caie: Bob has been a member of the Scarsdale faculty since 1973, and in those 40 years of service he has worked in many capacities and served thousands of students. Bob joined the business department as a teacher and subsequently served as its chairperson. Bob's desire to be a life-long learner is evident, as the business department changed and eventually disappeared, Bob went back to school to get a Masters in Special Education in order to serve students with disabilities. This would be his third certification and second Masters. Since 1993 Bob has worked in the LRC helping students with content and study skills. He has worked with students with learning and emotional disabilities as well as Autism spectrum disorders. To each he has brought patience, love, encouragement and a belief that they could succeed. There isn't a day that goes by in the LRC where we don't hear Bob encouraging, cajoling or intimidating a student to reach his or her potential. All of his students know that he is tough, but each one also knows he believes in their ability to succeed, and no matter what he will be there for them day in and day out.