The entire John Paulding School faculty and a huge audience of parents and students commemorated retiring principal last week. Meanwhile on the sidelines were some other notable women quietly finishing up their final semester, as others are doing in all our TUFSD schools.
We featured a letter from a family of fans of earlier this week, but let's not forget Karen Garibaldi, music teacher for our youngest students for 28 years and one of those rare breeds these days with a piano in her classroom. According to one parent, “if you got her, you were lucky.”
Wrote Kim Gaudin de Gonzalez, whose son Oliver had Garibaldi last year:
Long before our son Oliver bounced into Karen Garibaldi's pre-K class last year, I'd been apprised of her reputation. Kind and caring, firm but playful and a full supporter of the wonder of childhood, I'd overheard many a parent of children now in high school discussing the benefits their children derived from her nurturing classroom.
This was a teacher I was sorry my older daughter had missed. So I was thrilled when Oliver ended up in her class. She was everything I'd heard and more. She cared deeply about each student, about their growth in every area--social, physical, intellectual, creative and emotional. She ran a class that was lively and fun, she was animated and instructive and my son thrived under her care. And best of all--she was and is MUSICAL. The piano in her classroom is the only I've seen in a Tarrytown classroom, and her fingers frequently danced across it throughout the day. Music and sound was a wonderful part of her curriculum, and complimented all that she did.
"Our son Ben loved her," said Ted Echt, whose son Ben had her for kindergarten in 2000. "She really knew how to relate to children."
When I asked Pearlman and Rebecca Almogabar, ESL teacher at John Paulding for 25 years, what's next?, Almogabar said she looked forward in her retirement to being able to “finally sitting and sewing, doing more volunteer work.”
“Yes, more volunteering,” agreed Pearlman. She said she might make some progress on her “bucket list: learn to play the piano, write a novel.” But Pearlman also added that she really has “no big plans. I plan to retire.”
Both woman said they were equal parts excited and sad to be crossing through these double doors for the last time.
Though Pearlman said doing 43 years sounds like a long time, for her it was only “doing what I love. I didn't work a day in my life.”
Then, there we move onto the Middle School:
Andrea Osnow, English teacher of 32 years, was one of two retiring teahers praised in student speeches at Wednesday night's eighth grade graduation.
Osnow has a reputation for excellence in English, and the moxy to teach it to anyone. For years, she was a fifth grade teacher known for her emphasis on vocabulary and grammar.
Liz Silver, who graduated eighth grade last night, told a crowded auditorium how Osnow had helped her with her grammar and taught her a whole slew of new vocabularly words. Jackie Maldonado, also an eighth grade graduate, relayed how she had struggled with spelling, but with Osnow’s help in reviewing spelling test errors, she improved dramatically.
Jay Concepcion, who had Osnow for fifth grade back in 2002-2003, remembers a teacher who set high standards and demanded and earned his respect. He said, "I wasn't the easiest student to have in class, and she wasn't a teacher that accepted mediocrity. She was tough but had a real passion for teaching. I remember we read Boy by Roald Dahl and she brought his childhood to life—and made us learn lots of words I’d never heard of before. Words were her thing—my vocabulary increased a lot that year.”
The other teacher praised on Wednesday night is the hero of longest tenure in the system, science teacher David Benedict, Sr. for a whopping 50 years. He was honored last year as he approached this milestone, and :
“He’s been doing this job for almost 50 years, and he still loves it,” says his wife Carol, who hears his stories of students every night when he comes home. “He’s never bored, he still finds it challenging—truly enjoys it. I think that’s the gift he gives his students.”
At 75, Mr. Benedict is the longest tenured teacher in the school district, and legendary for his passion for teaching science and organizational skills to twelve-year-olds. His principal, Elizabeth Lopez, calls him “the guiding light of the middle school—the legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Other departures of note include:
Rosemary Prati, Principal, Morse School, 2 years in our district
Lyn Dalton, Teaching Assistant, Washington Irving, 13 years
I welcome any comments in praise of these fine people, as they were too busy, or bashful, to talk on their own behalf!
All will be sorely missed.
Yet, some comfort in the face of all these goodbyes is: none of these positions will be eliminated. Save for one librarian position cut for one who was not quite retirement age, the “rest are key positions that we need to replace. At this point, we're fortunate to be able to,” said Superintendent Dr. Howard Smith.
As Smith said at the surprise ceremony for Milliam, for whom he has yet to find a suitable replacement, all these pairs of (finely aged) shoes will indeed be tough to fill.
- thanks to the ongoing contributions in this series of Kim Gaudin de Gonzalez