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District Celebrates Ten Retirees

teacher visitAdministrators drove a parade of cars to each retirees home to congratulate them.Ten retiring employees of the Scarsdale Schools were honored at an online ceremony on June 2. The tributes were personal, insightful and touching and paid tribute to the dedicated professionals who have given a lifetime of service to the students.

The ceremony opened with beautiful musical performances from Scarsdale students. The first was a Zoom performance by the Scarsdale Strings Orchestra, each playing at their homes, but somehow achieving harmonious synchrony under the baton of Amedee Williams. This was followed by a solo saxophone performance by Michael Farina.

The performances and the ceremony are on view here:

The ceremony opened with Dr. Hagerman in front of a backdrop of the breezeway of the school, where the ceremony customarily takes place. He said the ten retirees had given 262 years to the district.

In a ceremony watched online by over 100 teachers, warm tributes were made to each retiree.

retireesJerry Crisci began with goodbyes to Syle Morrone, a computer aid in the elementary schools for 14 years. Crisci said, “Everyone loved him. He was a “patient listener,” who was “able to work with technology and little kids,” and had a “grandfatherly way.” He started out as a copywriter and was “gifted as a creative writer,” and often wrote poems for his colleagues. He wrote this final verse as a goodbye to his friends in the district:

Goodnight cursed scanner, Of piercing beeps.
Goodnight cables’ huddled heaps.

Good night, good night to all of those.
Good night to all my dear tech pros.

Farewell, lights out, the saying goes.
Today, you see, my labs will close.

ValentinHistory teacher Maria Valentin is retiring after 18 years at Scarsdale High School. Dr. Hagerman said she taught students the importance of understanding facts and stories and how to “ask and answer big anthropological, philosophical and historical questions.” He said that Valentin “Helped students to understand themselves and the world around them and was passionate about social justice and equity…. inspiring countless students to become passionate, inclusive, just and equitable.”

Her students thanked her for her” kindness and spunk” and expressed “deep gratitude for her passion and commitment to them and her craft.”

Colleagues remembered that she “coordinated a school wide writing contest on justice and injustice and invited a noted civil rights attorney to address the students on law, emphasizing that the struggle for human rights and justice is ongoing.”
Dr. Hagerman said, “You have prepared our students to take action and make their voices heard. Thank you for the indelible impact you have made on SHS and the legacy you have left behind.”

Choking back tears Valentin said it was “an honor to retire from the Scarsdale Schools.”

Jerry Crisci then addressed Vicki Presser, the district’s Chief Information Officer who retires after 18 Presseryears. He said, “With her name she was destined to work in public relations… She is a proud graduate of Brandeis and has a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism.”

Presser was “always active in politics and was a delegate at the 1972 Democratic convention. Her life was dedicated to public service and she was President of her local synagogue and president of the NYS Public Relations Association.

Crisci called Presser a “proofreader extraordinaire,” and said she always led the singing of happy birthday at administrative meetings and directed lost visitors at the school. She was recently elected to the White Plains Common Council and plans to spend a lot of time with her new grandchild.

Presser left the Board by singing the following song:

“Thanks for the memory
Of Bond and Budget votes
Endless meeting notes,
The students
And the teachers
And reporters seeking quotes!
I thank you so much.”

JospehineDrew Patrick called teacher aide Josephine Accarino an unsung hero of the classroom. She worked at the district for 22 years and had a genuine love of her students. Her colleagues said, “she was a pleasure to work with, very organized and motivated” and “finds creative ways to help.” Quoting John Muir, Patrick said, “Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life,” and encouraged Accarino to “trade in her high heels for a pair of hiking shoes and go explore.”

Rachel Moseley toasted retiring SHS Math teacher Laura Estersohn, saying that earlier this year she was sad to learn that “there was high degree of statistical probability that Laura was going to retire.” Estersohn came to Scarsdale 23 years ago after teaching at Lehmann High School in the Bronx. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a masters degree in math from Yale. She has also been inducted into many national honors societies. Math teacher Joe Nista said that Estersohn “helped to build classes that are now mainstays in the high school curriculum and was instrumental in starting the AP, now AT program in statisticsestersohn at the high school. She was the coach for the math team for many years and is known throughout Westchester for her innovative ways of teaching statistics and her interactive classroom.

Principal Ken Bonamo observed her at work and said, “ It came as no surprise that your preparation, classroom atmosphere and delivery were outstanding reflecting a deep knowledge of mathematics and genuine care and concern for students themselves. Colleagues describe her as patient, compassionate, fair minded, remarkable, with a gentle nature, a sweet disposition, the ability to listen and a teacher “who has the best interests of her students at heart in all that she does.”

Tom Maguire, who taught at SHS for 31 years, was lauded by Edgar McIntosh. He called Maguire “Deep-thinking, rigorous, exacting and erudite,” with a curriculum that pushes students to think critically and insists that students develop informed, supported points of view that can be defended eloquently.”

maguireHe noted that Maguire came from a family of educators, with his dad a retired superintendent and his wife Patty Dempsey also a retired teacher.

McIntosh said, “Tom is known as one of the most demanding teachers in the high school, but in the best possible sense. Maguire’s name is spoken with reverence and trepidation because students know they will be challenged and held accountable but they will also laugh and learn.” Bonamo said Maguire was “the happiest curmudgeon I know.” He said, “When I needed to hear something unpleasant but straight, I could count on Tom to stop by…. and added, “I will miss Tom for his counsel and his humor and all he has done for our students.”

Eric Rauschenbach offered the following about special education teacher Renee Lund who has been at the middle school for 32 years. He called her “calm, gentle and warm” as well as reneelund“assertive, driven and tireless.” He called her the “energizer bunny” and said she “accomplishes more before she walks into school then most of us accomplish in an entire day.” She teaches the sixth grade parallel class and is an advocate for the children. She is driven to help them improve their academic, improve self-esteem and help them develop self-advocacy skills to be more independent. Rauschenbach said, “ She teaches students with significant challenges and she has never given up on any of them using a magic formula of pedagogy and love.

heidikaplanHeidi Kaplan is retiring after 39 years of teaching math at the middle school. Drew Patrick complimented her “consistent approach to teaching and learning.” She “guides students to individual discovery and optimizes student involvement and interactions with the material.” She “set clear and high expectations and found ways to engage each and every learner.” He said, “Kaplan helped the weakest and the strongest students and was a good colleague, as she was “Firm in her convictions but flexible enough to work with all team members.

Last, teacher aid Elaine Dobrydino is retiring after 40 years at Edgewood School. Patrick said, “she helped students find Elainesuccess,” and “welcomed students each day with a warm smile.” According to her colleagues, “she “made a difference in the lives of children, could always be counted on and never complained. She arrived at school each day ready to tackle whatever work was needed.”

Watch the ceremony on Vimeo here:

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