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.”
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
With kids today obsessed with all the latest electronic gaming gadgets — the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, and the like — you’d think that the comparatively antiquated concept of pushing a piece of plastic along a sheet of cardboard would be eschewed by your average teenager; however, judging by the crowd of kids at the Massapequa Public Library’s Board Game Café, this actually may not be the case.
Young Adult Services librarian Peter Cirona, who created the Board Game Café at the library’s Central Avenue branch (in addition to a whole host of other young adult programs), said that it’s a great way for kids to socialize and play some classic board games in a fun and friendly environment.
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
On Feb. 27, parents in the Levittown, East Meadow, Massapequa and Farmingdale school districts came together for an informal pannel discussion on the New York State Education Department and the implementation of the state Common Core Learning Standards. Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Jeanette Deutermann of the Long Island Opt Out Facebook page, and former public school teacher David Greene, who came to the Farmingdale Public Library to talk with local parents about key concerns and questions with the curriculum.
Outspoken parent and founder of the Long Island Opt Out movement, Deutermann, delved into some of the factors behind what led to the state’s adoption of the Common Core, and how the state education department cites High School graduation rates as its reasoning behind the curriculum.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:47
One of Major League Soccer’s top front office executives has many fond memories of growing up in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL). Bill Manning, the President of Western Conference champion Real Salt Lake and the club’s field, Rio Tinto Stadium, played for the LIJSL Select Team from 1979 to ‘83 as well as the Massapequa Soccer Club from 1972 to ‘83.
Manning’s Massapequa teams had virtually the same players from Under-10 to Under-19, but kept changing their name depending on who their coach was. He played for the Massapequa Flying Dutchmen (coached by Kurt Knoblauch), the Massapequa Bugs (Dick Roche), the Massapequa Cosmos (Jerry Lyons) and the Massapequa Bulls (coached by his father, also named Bill Manning). The Bulls might have lost in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) State Open Cup finals to B/W Gottschee in overtime in 1983, but his teams won the LIJSL division championship in 1974, ‘76 and ‘79 plus the Long Island Cup in 1980 and ‘83.
Thursday, 27 February 2014 10:58
If the games were played on paper, Massapequa would’ve had no shot. The Chiefs faced a tall order last week playing Elmont, which boasted a 12-3 record and four premier scorers. They gave a tremendous effort, but ultimately had their season cut short, 69-62, despite Alex Cosenza leading the scoring with 29 points.
“I can’t ask for anything else from these guys,” said Head Coach Matt Voigt. “I am so proud of them. I applaud their efforts,”