PFT Says Goodbye to Some Amazing Educators!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024
A Message from Linda Waldbaum Newsletter Editor
Good Afternoon Sisters and Brothers of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers,
As we complete another academic school year, the PFT would like to take this opportunity to honor our retiring educators. These dedicated professionals have spent decades shaping minds and inspiring a love of learning. Their contributions have made a significant impact on students, colleagues, and the Plainedge community as a whole. Congratulations to our seven retirees; we wish you well on the next chapter of your life’s journey. In solidarity! 
Robert Shaver 
Unbelievably, Coach Shaver came to Plainedge twenty eight years ago after a few years in another Long Island School District. Throughout his long and distinguished career at Plainedge High School, he has taught students in a wide variety of courses, including physical education, sports medicine, and health. His positive impact on children extended well beyond the classroom as he imparted lessons of discipline and respect amongst the football and wrestling athletes he coached. In addition to being an amazing educator, Rob also led Plainedge Football to win six Nassau County Championship titles, which is clearly an impressive feat. His fondest memory at Plainedge was winning the Long Island Championship with his son on the team. In retirement, Coach Shaver looks forward to having more time to fish, golf and hunt; however, he will still be a presence in Plainedge, coaching football and wrestling even as he departs from his teaching career. 
Gina Smith 
Gina has spent her impressive teaching career working exclusively at Plainedge High School. She was hired in the CTE Department and has taught Cisco Networking, AP Computer Science and a variety of technology classes. In addition to her extensive class load, Gina has also managed the internship program, which enables students to experience real world vocations and allows them to network with professionals in the field they may pursue. When questioned about what she liked the best about working in Plainedge, Gina responded, “I will always remember my colleagues with affection.” In retirement, Gina is excited to move upstate to be with her family and to run a sanctuary for stray cats. As Gina moves on to enjoy the coming years, she wishes her Long Island family all the best!
Kathleen Harders 
Kathy came to Plainedge in 1999 as a school psychologist. Over her 25 year career, she has worked with students and educators at all three elementary schools and the high school. When asked about her best memories in Plainedge, Kathy responded, “I am proud to be a part of the incredible growth within the special education department, such as co-teaching K-12, development of the Best Buddies program, and Peer Coaching for adaptive PE.” In addition, Kathy is also proud of the liaison established with Northwell, making mental health support services and linkages readily accessible to students, families, and staff of Plainedge. Lastly, Kathy is grateful to have seen the development of the GSA club in the high school, which supports inclusivity for all students. When reflecting on her long time in education, Kathy noted, “Seeing our contract change to include protection for all of us, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation was very meaningful to me. Having our health benefits extended to domestic partners, back when same gender marriage hadn't been legalized, warmed my heart, and inspired my Plainedge Pride!” In retirement, Kathy will be moving upstate to be closer to her family in Endicott. As an ordained Buddhist nun, Kathy plans to spend a significant amount of time teaching classes in the Binghamton and Ithaca area. 
Julie Koppas 
Julie has been teaching library science in Schwarting Elementary School since the fall of 2005. Her journey to become the librarian at Schwarting Elementary School started with a teaching degree from Dowling. She was then hired in the fall of 2000 as a teacher assigned librarian at PS 196 in the South Bronx. This experience brought back fond memories of when she was a young girl spending many hours on Saturdays at the Grand Avenue Public Library in Baldwin. Julie decided to go back to school to get a degree in Library Information Science. While obtaining her librarian degree, Julie continued to work at PS 196 teaching science and social studies enrichment, as well as 2nd grade. By 2005, Julie had her degree in library science and found her home in Plainedge. When questioned about her fondest memories in Plainedge, Julie replied, “My favorite experiences have been working with the kids during class, sharing stories and teaching library skills in fun and creative ways.” In addition to teaching, Julie has also been a facilitator for the Schwarting News, cooking workshops, and the drama advisor for numerous productions. Julie will miss the day-to-day conversations with the kids and their beautiful smiling faces as they check out their first book in September. Julie wishes to thank Plainedge “for giving me the opportunity to serve the community and children of this wonderful school district for the past nineteen years. It has truly been a pleasure! I will miss you all!”
Donald White 
Don has spent his dedicated twenty seven year career at Plainedge working as one of our very important High School social workers. When asked to recall his fondest memories while in Plainedge, Don responded, “I will miss my amazing colleagues. I can’t believe how quickly time here has flown by, but those last few years before retirement went the quickest.” As Don moves on to enjoy the next chapter of his life, he sets his sights on traveling during the off-season and spending more time with his family and friends. Before Don departs Plainedge one last time, he thanks everyone for making his time here an enjoyable experience and wishes much happiness to all! 
Susan Wells
Sue has thoroughly enjoyed the past twenty one years as an Earth Science teacher in Plainedge Middle School. Shortly after being hired, Sue also took on the responsibility of Middle School Science Department Coordinator. In addition to teaching her own students, she was in charge of coordinating the needs of her department. Sue has always been a dedicated teacher and could often be found offering extra help at numerous times throughout the school day. In the future, Sue plans on becoming a snowbird and living in Florida during the winter months. When she is not there or on Long Island, Sue plans on enjoying lots of travel when school is in session. As Sue departs Plainedge, she wants all her colleagues to know, “I have always enjoyed working at Plainedge but look forward to this next chapter of my life!” 
Barbara Burke
Barbara has spent the past twenty one years as a teaching assistant in the K-1 Special Education Department at Schwarting. She has always loved working with kids and has found her time here in Plainedge very rewarding. When asked what she enjoyed the most about her job, Barbara responded, “I loved the team approach and partnership that I shared with my colleagues and will miss the rolling jokes and laughs which always made the days go faster.” Barbara will also miss the time she spent tending plants and doing projects in the green house. According to Barbara, “My husband and I will be busy in our Massapequa home gardening, woodworking, and building guitars. We will take advantage of road trips wherever and whenever the mood strikes us. My husband and I will continue to enjoy following the live music scene and will attend concerts and see the bands we loved since we were much younger.” When not enjoying the road or concerts, Barbara says she is a true Long Islander and plans to enjoy her retirement by spending time with her family and friends, hanging out on the beaches, and taking trips into NYC. 


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