Thursday, 27 June 2013 00:00
As her impressive 36-year career serving special-needs students in Massapequa gradually winds to a close, Linda Patrissi considers the lessons taught to her as a child by her grandfather as the driving force behind her impassioned life’s work.
“My grandfather was a glassblower from Sweden, and I loved his storytelling...we had no television back then, so we would rely on him, and he was a very creative person,” she said. “And the man that lived behind him worked for book publisher Doubleday...we’d visit him for tea, and he always had the newest books, and we got to take them home. I soon realized that I wanted to do something with stories and learning in my life.”
Patrissi, 58, who retires this June after working in the Massapequa school district since 1977, was born in Freeport and currently calls Massapequa Park her home. She resides there with her husband and daughter, and credits a brief stint as a Sunday school teacher for her local church as the catalyst for steering her career towards helping those with special needs.
“God has always been a part of my life, and one day he told me that he needed me to work with the special children,” she said. “Plus, as a child, I had glasses and I was chubby...I didn’t feel like I fit in back then, and I saw that I could relate to these children, and make a difference in their lives.”
After obtaining her master’s degree, Patrissi got a part-time job with the Massapequa school district. Her superb performance there opened doors for her, eventually leading to full-time employment as a Special Education teacher in several of the district’s elementary schools (she currently works at Fairfield), a position she has held for nearly 37 years.
Patrissi has dealt with a great deal of hardship in her life, including the near-death of her husband at the hands of a drunk driver. However, she remained steadfast throughout his recovery, and in the end, the two welcomed their daughter into the world together.
“Guess who got me through it all? The kids and my staff,” she said. “They helped me stay strong through my husband’s recovery.”
As for why Patrissi chose this time to call it a day on her career, she cites several reasons; however, the most prevalent one is her displeasure with sweeping changes that New York State is making to education, particularly with the newly-mandated “Common Core” learning standards. Patrissi says that the standards impose an overly rigid and difficult set of teaching guidelines upon both students and teachers.
“The Common Core has changed a lot...you can no longer teach with creativity and imagination,” she said. “We’re setting special needs children back almost a whole generation with adherence to strict assessment tests and teaching guidelines that allow no flexibility...the creativity is gone. The children are upset, and it’s causing stress for teachers as well. I might have stayed on a few more years if it wasn’t for Common Core.”
Despite putting in for her retirement at the end of this school year, Patrissi won’t be taking it easy; in fact, she already has a full plate of activity in store for her come this June.
“Massapequa has already asked me to work on their pre-school committee for the handicapped, and that’s a nice thing to be offered,” she said. “I plan to be active in my church, as well as taking it easy and getting to know who I am. I also want to follow my daughter as she goes to college, and I’m very excited for her. I want to watch her blossom.”
Patrissi’s drive to keep busy, however, is obviously fueled by the joyous memories accumulated by nearly four decades of encouraging children to be all that they can be.
“I feel blessed to have had a career this long in education,” she said. “I would work long hours, take it home, and still be ready for more the next day. The memories I’m going to have are the beauty of being an educator. I have such wonderful memories that will stick with me, and I’ll always work with children, no matter where life takes me next.”
Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00
Two hundred business students from high schools across Nassau County, including Massapequa High School, competed for scholarships and cash awards—more than $33,000 in all—from various sponsors at Nassau County’s annual Comptroller’s Entrepreneurial Challenge.
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
The events on Sept. 11, 2001 had a profound effect on nearly all in the tri-state area, but for first responders, the effects were overwhelming. Long-time Massapequa resident Michael Smith, a member of the New York Fire Department, experienced those effects firsthand.
“While I’ve always been a person that could appreciate life, after 9/11 I became so distraught,” he said. “I realized I need to do something I want to do — something I love to do.”
A 30-year veteran of the fire department, Smith retired in 2002. He and his wife of 33 years, Teresa, began to look for a place they could enjoy life. This mindset brought them to the East End of Long Island, where they often went for day trips. They settled down in a home in Orient Point in 2004; in a home that needed quite a bit of work. And when it was time to landscape the property, a new idea took root — a vineyard.
Thursday, 10 April 2014 08:56
Massapequa athletes recently received honors from their coaches at Kellenberg Memorial High School.
Each season, the coaches of all of the Kellenberg teams choose one member of their team who stands out as an athlete that has worked hard to improve themselves in their chosen sport.
Thursday, 03 April 2014 10:19
The Farmingdale State women’s lacrosse team won the first game of their Spring Break trip to North Carolina with a victory over Greensboro College. In wet and muddy conditions, the Rams (8-1) held an 8-5 lead at the half and took the eventual 13-10 win.
In the first half and tied 2-2, the Pride (7-5) pulled ahead 4-2 with two unassisted goals by junior attack Nadya Fedun. Farmingdale State answered with four straight scores for a 6-4 advantage, on goals by juniors Alyssa Handel, Nicole Marzocca and Massapequan Jackie Kennedy.Sophomore attack Ashlynn Parks put Greensboro within a goal at the 7:03 mark, but the Rams scored two more to lead 8-5 at the halftime break.