By SHERIDAN CYR
The Southington Board of Education recognized 17 retiring employees of Southington Public Schools on Oct. 25 in what officials called “one of the best nights for the board.”
“Tonight, we are celebrating what people have given us—basically their lives—for many years,” said BOE chair Brian Goralski. “This is a celebration we look forward to, but it’s bittersweet, because we see you all leave and go off to retirement.”
The 17 individuals retiring came from a variety of roles within the school system. Many of them served in multiple capacities over the years of their employment.
Patricia Kenefick’s teaching career began in 1965, and she had stops at Hatton, Flanders, Alta at Milldale School, Flanders, DePaolo, and Kennedy. Along the way, Kenefick served as a faculty manager, curriculum specialist, Unified Sports site coordinator, cheerleading coach, head teacher or grants, and a substitute teacher.
Roberta Knoegel has been a teacher since 1978, serving as a speech language pathologist at South End, Strong, Derynoski, Kennedy, and Flanders.
Debra O’Brien has been teaching at the high school since 1981 and has served as the Emblem newspaper advisor, a Key Club co-advisor, and a learning academy science teacher.
Since 1981, Marcia Phelps has served as a physical education teacher at Hatton, Thalberg, South End, North Center, Alta and Flanders.
Elizabeth Prusski has been a special education teacher since 1974.
Philip Pomposi began in 1994 and taught at Central Elementary School (now Derynoski) and Kennedy Middle School.
George Pulley has been teaching science since 1986, at the high school and Alta.
But it wasn’t just teachers that were recognized. The board recognized three paraeducators and a tutor.
Mary Gotowala (Plantsville, Strong) and Patricia Tarfano (Central, Flanders, South End) have worked as paraeducators at the elementary level. Gotowala began in 1997, and Tarfano began in 1985. Paraeducator Louise Torvinen has been at the high school and a summer program since 1998. Susan Zoni has served as a tutor in the district since 2014.
Five others were recognized for their work with students and the administrative offices. Marie Bordonaro has been a nursing supervisor since 1997. Mark Fiondella served as custodian since 1990 at Thalberg, Plantsville and Flanders. Kimberly Hunt was a payroll supervisor, then payroll manager, since 2004. Sherlee Plawecki has been working as purchasing department secretary since 1998, and Jane Tebo has been a part time clerk and library/media staff at SHS and Hatton since 2004.
“This is one of the most important evenings we have,” said superintendent of schools Tim Connellan. “There is nothing more important than acknowledging and celebrating excellence in education, and these folks exemplify that in all that they’ve done for Southington Public Schools. We are thrilled to have had them come back and be recognized tonight.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.