PFT Says Goodbye to Some Amazing Educators!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Good afternoon Sisters and Brothers of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers. As another great school year comes to an end in Plainedge, we will be saying goodbye to ten of our members who are completing their final year in education. Please take a minute to read about our retirees, as we honor them in this newsletter and wish them nothing but the best of health and happiness as they begin the next chapter of their lives! In solidarity.


Diane Bernstein has worked in the Plainedge School District as a reading specialist for 17 years. During her time in Plainedge, Diane has spent her career educating children in multiple buildings including Eastplain, Schwarting, and the Middle School. In retirement, she is looking forward to relaxing on the beach with a good book and spending time in NYC taking in many of the cultural events and sights not yet seen. With all that in mind, the thing that Diane is most looking forward to is beginning a new and exciting phase of her life as a grandma, when she welcomes her 1st grandchild towards the end of June. In her role as grandma this summer, she will be reacquainting herself with changing diapers, bottle washing and rehearsing some lullabies. When time allows, she hopes to do some more traveling. On her bucket list is Australia, the Galapagos Islands, parts of Central and South America, and a revisit to Italy.

Diane has many fond memories of Plainedge, but one that always touches her heart are the fifth grade Moving Up Ceremonies. As she says, "Each year I watch the elementary children as they prepare for moving on to the next phase of their education. The smiles in their faces and the excitement in their eyes always brings me joy. When I reflect on the hard work that they have done and countless hours they have spent learning to read and write, I feel blessed to have been a part of helping them get to where they are at that moment in time. Watching them exit fifth grade with confidence and a sense of belonging, remembering what they were like when they first entered our schools and how they have grown, has truly been a highlight of my career."
As Diane moves on to travel and enjoy grandparenthood, she feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in Plainedge, to have met and collaborated with wonderful dedicated teachers, and to have been able to educate such beautiful children. According to Diane, "I had a career that has brought me much happiness and joy."
Barbara Feder-Murdock is completing her 33rd year as a Special Education teacher in the Plainedge School District, during which she has taught numerous self-contained and inclusion classes. Throughout her distinguished career, Barbara has worked at Schwarting, Eastplain, West, and Northedge (where the present day Middle School is located). When asked about her fondest memories at Plainedge, she said there were simply way too many to mention! In retirement, Barbara plans on filling her days by taking art classes, traveling and reducing stress!!

As Barbara embarks on the next part of her life's journey, she would like to leave her colleagues with one final thought. "I have always found baseball to be analogous to life in many ways. I think this quote from National League Baseball Hall of Famer, Pat Gillick,helps explain, 'Baseball is about talent, hard work, and strategy. But at the deepest level it's about love, integrity and respect.' Thank you to my colleagues for your love, integrity and respect!"

Nancy Hennessy has enjoyed working at John H. West Elementary School for the past 27 years.  She has had the pleasure of teaching so many wonderful students in kindergarten, third grade, and fifth grade. In addition to teaching her yearly classes, Nancy has enriched the lives of her students and school community by redesigning and writing curriculum, teaching the Kindergarten Enrichment Summer Program, and the former Safety Town program for incoming kindergarten students. 

Throughout her time in Plainedge, Nancy has served on many committees, beginning with Strategic Planning, and ending with the Literacy Committee, which planned for the implementation of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. According to Nancy, "These opportunities allowed me to grow professionally and perfect my craft. I have enjoyed working with the many wonderful teachers, administrators, and support personnel in Plainedge."

In retirement, Nancy plans to enjoy life with her husband, daughter, and grandchildren.  She hopes to travel, read, swim, golf, and may even try to write, gathering inspiration from her many students.

Joanne Kaplan has been an educator for 30 years, 15 of those in Plainedge. As a teaching assistant, she found it very rewarding to work with children in both the self-contained and inclusion settings. The majority of her assignments were at Schwarting, but she also spent three years working at West. Her fondest memories are from the staff and administration who generously shared their friendship, support, humor, and compassion. When asked about her long career Joanne stated, "I feel fortunate to have met so many caring people. Special memories were also created by the children, who always made me smile. Since my husband and I are empty nesters, they filled the emptiness and brought me much joy. It was most rewarding to make a difference in their lives."

In retirement, Joanne and her husband are moving to Fairfax, Virginia to be closer to their two sons. Her empty nest will soon be filled by a grandchild, whom she cannot wait to hold. Although she has mixed emotions about leaving Schwarting, she is very much looking forward to being near family. As Joanne begins to look forward to retirement, she would just like to wish everybody a happy and healthy life, with time spent doing what you enjoy.

Rose Mirasola is leaving Plainedge after 16 years of math education. She started her career teaching 7th grade at Packard Middle School and then moved to the new Middle School when it opened in 2004. Rose's fondest memories of Plainedge stem from working with her team of teachers and all other educators in the school. Rose shared, "We had a lot of fun together and I enjoyed planning and socializing with so many different teachers.  All of the teachers that I met and started out with at Packard were very supportive and I remember that I enjoyed going to the faculty room where all of the teachers congregated and exchanged ideas."

In retirement, Rose plans to travel and spend more time with family. She is most excited about finally being able to book trips in September, which she could never do during the school year. Becoming a teacher was a second career, and she has thoroughly enjoyed all of her interactions with her colleagues and students. As Rose leaves Plainedge to spend time with family, she reflects on her career with some departing thoughts and gratitude, "We all know the importance of teaching and through teaching I feel that I have become a better person and a better parent.   Thanks to all."

Kathy Morris has been a part of the Plainedge School District for 33 years. For the most part of her long and distinguished career, she taught mainly 2nd and 3rd grade at Schwarting. Her fondest memories include collaborating with colleagues to create exciting lessons that children loved. In retirement, Kathy plans to travel, take classes, read more, exercise more, cook more, and to just relax! Schwarting has been her second home for 33 years, and she will miss working and socializing with her colleagues. As Kathy leaves Plainedge to start the next part of her life's journey, she would like to leave the following message for all of her friends, "I wish all of my PFT colleagues the best of luck in the years to come. The days may sometimes seem long, but the years go by so quickly!"

Tom Pisani has been an educator in Plainedge for the last 33 years. Throughout his long tenure in the District, Tom has been located at both the High School and Packard, and has served in many roles including physical education teacher, dean of students, and coach of multiple sports. The one thing Tom is most proud of is the relationships that he forged with all the student athletes he has worked with over his long teaching and coaching career. It is quite an accomplishment that out of 99 possible coaching seasons, Tom has coached 94!

In retirement, Tom plans to spend lots of his free time traveling and devoting more time to being with his wife and two daughters. As Tom departs Plainedge for the next part of life's adventure, he would like to leave his colleagues with one of his favorite quotes from the great football coach Tom Landry: "A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be".
It might be hard to believe, but Peter Rosenstein has taught in Plainedge Public Schools for a whopping 51 years, 48 years at the High School, and 3 years at the Middle School. He spent a majority of his career as a social studies teacher, but also served 3 years as an English teacher, and 1 summer as a physical education teacher. According to Peter, "My fondest memories of Plainedge always revolve around the students. Most of the students, at every level of ability, were well-balanced, nice kids, and a pleasure to teach."
Since Peter will still be teaching two AP classes at PHS next year, his plans are a bit limited, but in his increased free time, he hopes to write about his many experiences at PHS. Although he has no pretensions that this book will ever be published, his greatest hope is that it becomes a part of Plainedge history to help future Plainedge scholars understand the "deep" past of Plainedge.
In semi-retirement, Peter would also like to spend more time with his wife travelling and with their three grandchildren (13,11, and 7), who unfortunately are growing up too fast and are too busy with their various activities to spend enough time with their grandparents. As Peter says, "I am desperately looking for a "cure" to growing up, but alas, I am failing so far."

While reflecting on his long career in education, Peter states, "I have been lucky enough to work with a department that is very close and especially helpful to each other. I am also lucky that most of the faculties I have worked with over the past 51 years have been able to deal with and (usually) accept my level of sarcasm and loudness, and seem to actually get along with me. When I first started teaching at PHS, there were many administrators who were more interested in the bureaucracy working smoothly than helping teachers in a substantive way. This is certainly not the case today. The high school administration is primarily devoted to helping teachers in the classroom in a friendly and professional manner. Overall, my 51 year tenure at Plainedge has been an extremely rewarding experience thanks to my relations with students, teachers and administrators, and I am sure that I couldn't have picked a better way to spend my life; teaching and helping bright, good kids!"

Dave Schutz has been enriching the lives of Plainedge children for 22 years as a science and engineering teacher. Although he began his career in Plainedge at the Middle School for 9 years, he has spent the last 13 years teaching at the High School. In addition to working with children, Dave spent 16 years on the Teacher Center Policy Board helping to plan and teach professional development courses that have enabled our members to become better educators.
By far, Dave said that his fondest memories will be of his students: "They have made me laugh, cry and scratch my head in wonder." In retirement, Dave will be moving to his house in Florida, sailing, and volunteering for many worthy causes. As Dave departs for a much warmer climate, he would like to share the following goodbye with his fellow PFT members: "Good luck to you Plainedge and keep up the good work."
For the last 30 years of his life, Adam Waterhouse has been educating children in the Plainedge School District. Throughout his entire career, Adam has been working at Plainedge High School where he has taught a huge variety of science courses including AP Biology, Regents Biology, Honors Biology, Marine Biology, Oceanography, Regents Chemistry, and Honors Chemistry.  Adam's fondest memories of Plainedge include getting to know students each year, coaching nearly 40 seasons of boy's and girl's tennis, working with other dedicated teachers and administrators, and of course lunch with his fellow PFT members! After leaving Plainedge, Adam plans to continue coaching men's and women's tennis at Farmingdale State College, as well as enjoying more time with family and practicing his golf game.
As Adam exits Plainedge to enjoy family life, he wants his fellow PFT members to know, "It has been a pleasure and honor working alongside all of you.  The students of Plainedge are lucky to have you, so continue to inspire, motivate and be a positive role model each and every day."