Along with the 490 Blue Knights who graduated from Southington High School (SHS) last Friday, Southington schools will say goodbye to more than 30 members of their faculty and staff. During the 2015-2016 school year, 33 employees of Southington Public Schools announced their retirement.
The list of retirees includes one administrator, Special Education Coordinator Sandy Kujawski, along with three secretaries, Denise Gravel-Silve from Thalberg Elementary School (TES), and Carol Volpe and Judy Holley from SHS. In addition, crossing guard Letizzia Benoit (SHS), assistant head custodian at SHS Gary Tompson, and John F. Kennedy Middle School (JFK) nurse Mary Ann Chiappetta joined the list of retiring workers.
For 19 teachers, ranging from the elementary to high school level, the class of 2016 was their last. SHS will say goodbye to Stephen Carpenter (technical education), Nancy Chiero (special education), Barbara Jarvis (math), John Durbin (social studies), Dorothy Fontana (family and consumer sciences), and guidance counselor Bethany Ingreselli.
JFK will return next fall without math teacher Nancy Powers-Salamon. The school is still mourning the loss of Joseph Cipolini (science) who passed away in April.
TES will say farewell to teachers Karen Audskevich (grade 5), and Andrea Triano-Lachapell (grade 2). Kelley Elementary School speech teacher Terese Burger is also among the list of retirees. Diance Colite (grade 4) and Linda Gaitling (special education) retired from Plantsville Elementary School. Hatton Elementary School is saying goodbye to Denise Pedrotty (grade 4) and Alisa Piech (special education). Strong Elementary School’s list includes Cheryl Sasek (grade 4).
Seven paraprofessionals have also retired this year. Judy Houseman and Lisa Epperson retired at the high school, while Jackie Belanger and Linda Long retired from Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School.
Derynoski Elementary School will say goodbye to paraprofessionals Lynn Germano and Sharon Leland; Hatton Elementary School to Rosemary Pelletier.
Superintendent of Southington Public Schools Timothy Connellan pointed out that many on the list of retirees have spent most, if not all, of their careers in Southington.
“It is rare these days to have someone dedicate their entire career to one school district,” said Connellan, “I think it says a lot about the community and the integrity of the individuals’ dedication to their students.”
Connellan said that he hopes many retiring members of the faculty and staff will, as he has seen in the past, return to Southington schools as substitutes, volunteers, or even just as visitors.
“It’s really hard to replace their expertise and dedication,” said Connellan, “They have all become such an integral part of the every day fabric.”
Connellan noted that one retiree in particular has already made plans to continue her work in Southington. Nancy Chiero, a special education teacher at SHS, will return in the fall as a 0.2 FTE employee, meaning she will work one full day per week or one period per day.
Connellan said he has had the opportunity to work closely with Chiero on many projects over the years, and that she is “the epitome of going above and beyond.” Chiero will assist special needs students ages 18 to 21-years-old with transitioning into life outside of SHS in a partnership between Lincoln College of New England and Southington Public Schools.
“We have folks come back all the time, because people have such an amazing connection with these schools and these students,” said Connellan, “We appreciate all of these individuals so much.”