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Letter: School Recollections

As the stresses over the budget fade into summer, and graduates toss their caps to the sky, I’m overcome with emotion.  A few years ago, when my first child left for college, my reaction was similar to most parents who go through this: tears and more tears. While undoubtedly, that knot in my stomach will tighten as the next departure draws near, today I am filled with pride for what my children have accomplished and gratitude for the educators who helped them reach their goals.   

On graduation day, when I shouldn’t have been thinking budget, for a few moments it was all I could think about!  Looking at the beautiful campus, flashes of the last 16 years raced through my mind. I realized how lucky my children are to have been embraced by the faculty of this amazing school district.  I can’t put a price on the education and support they received from the staff members of the Manhasset School District.

My mind now flooded with memories: Mrs. Sandy Kasper, a third grade teacher at Shelter Rock who came to a slumber party at my home (I can still hear the girls’ giggles as she yelled “surprise”);  Judy Zoller, a first and second grade teacher, who fought to loop with her class, to spend one more year together; the joy on my oldest son’s face when Mr. Brian Katz, his fifth grade teacher, attended his Tae Kwon Do Black Belt Test.  When one of my children went through separation anxiety, Shelter Rock Principal, Mr. Robert Geczik, would wait in the parking lot for us to. Mrs. Gretchen Williams, a third grade teacher and Mrs. Karen Aaron, a fourth grade teacher, also went out of their way to make my child feel safe at school. After my one child was diagnosed with alopecia, a rare condition that caused complete hair loss, school support was stellar.  Mr. Geczik, Mrs. Cathy Mitchell, Mrs. Aaron, Mrs. Holly Weinstein, Coach Bernadette Bourazeris, were amazing! I remember my eldest daughter’s fifth grade teacher, Mr. Michael O’Brian, and the gift he had of motivating children to learn.    

Then came middle school where my boy with alopecia had to face many more children and many more challenges.  His new Principal, Dr. Dean Schlanger, greeted him that September morning and the two posed for a photo.  On the last week of school, six years later, Dr. Schlanger presented us with a framed photo of a young boy, wearing his baseball hat, small and frightened but embraced with support — and a new photo of the two today!  There stood a man, no longer a boy, smiling, confident and strong.  

This is the kind of love and support Manhasset Schools has brought to our lives. There are many more who have impacted the lives of my four children. The wonderful Coach Stephan Sair, who pushed my son even when he was hard to push! The inspiring Jennifer Landman, guidance counselor; the friendly faces the children see in the hallways, Rosa, Attilio and the many others who made their daily experience one of comfort!  Today, as watch my second son graduate, I see Superintendent Charles Cardillo choking up with every speech, and every embrace. Board of Ed Vice President Regina Rule could hardly contain her emotions as she addressed the class.  Assistant Principal Mr. Sippin, who sadly lost his job in the budget cuts, shook every hand with a smile on his face, while I’m sure carrying a heavy heart. Our amazing principal hugged every graduate who came down that procession.

Today, one day after the pomp and circumstance, my son received two special pieces of mail: a graduation card from Mrs. Patty Siver, his second grade teacher and letter addressed to “Future Mike”! Apparently, a teacher had the idea many years ago to have the children write letters to each other in the future! What a fun gift to receive.  

I could go on about the many incredible acts of kindness and support members of the Manhasset School District have offered.  Acts that go way beyond their contracts!  We have great academics, great sports and all sorts of wonderful programs here, but Manhasset Schools is so much more thanks to the wonderful faculty and staff.  

Jodi Fera