Niskayuna School District bids 20 retirees farewell

Retiring faculty and staff pose together for a group picture. Photo courtesy Niskayuna Central School District

Retiring faculty and staff pose together for a group picture. Photo courtesy Niskayuna Central School District

By REBECCA ISENHART
Gazette Reporter
NISKAYUNA —When students at Rosendale Elementary found out school secretary Kathy Smith planned to retire at the end of the 2013-14 school year, they were disappointed. Who would greet them in the office each day? One fifth-grader expressed her gratitude in a letter:

“Thank you for making my years at Rosendale fun, happy, and exciting. You have always welcomed every Rosendale guest with a big, warm smile. (That is something not many school secretaries can do so well),” the letter read.
“Of all the schools I go to, Rosendale is always going to be one I remember and love, thanks to you,” the student continued. “Thank you again for making Rosendale so much fun.”

Despite exciting plans that ranged from attending their children’s weddings to world travel, new homes, and long days of fishing and golf, Niskayuna School District’s new retirees seemed reluctant to leave during a ceremony honoring their work last week.

Before last week’s Board of Education meeting, 20 retiring faculty and staff, whose service averaged almost 20 years, gathered in the Van Antwerp auditorium to be formally thanked for all their hard work. A speech highlighting career accomplishments was dedicated to each one, along with a commemorative photograph and a letter from Senator Hugh T. Farley.

Donna Flint cleaned Van Antwerp School two decades ago and worked her way to a key position in the transportation department. Melanie DiGuardi wrote an entire lesson book about her physical education philosophy that made moving fun for all students. Polly Stahl made sure students could still get to their books while an entire library was moved.
Among the broad strokes of their professional successes, the retirees recalled the bright spots that made their time in the district rewarding.

“Seeing students participate in our school assemblies, our shy ones, it’s really great to see them grow and blossom,” speech therapist Virginia Gritmon said.

Librarian Polly Stahl shared a seasonal surprise that entertained her coworkers and students each spring for two years: baby ducks, born in their courtyard.

Kathryn A. Smith, executive secretary at Rosendale, signs the district's Service Registry as all retiring employees do at the ceremony each year. Photo courtesy Niskayuna Central School District.

Kathryn A. Smith, executive secretary at Rosendale, signs the district’s Service Registry as all retiring employees do at the ceremony each year. Photo courtesy Niskayuna Central School District.

“A bunch of us have been helping take care of them,” she said. “We got a little swimming pool for them.” Alfred Sive, K-12 Social Studies Director, remembered the successes of his students, as well as the warm welcome he received at Niskayuna years ago.

“My very first semester teaching here, at the end of the class, the students all stood up and applauded, and I was just so surprised by that,” he said. “That just for me symbolizes just how great students and families are in this district.”
The following school district employees will retire at the end of the school year:

Edward Alston, Ronald Grastorf, Barbara Anderson, Virginia Gritmon, Joseph Baciewicz, Marion Kouzan, Cynthia Battiste, Thomas O’Donnell, Melanie DeGuardi, Mary-Jo Pierpont, Linda Edwards, Massimo Ribeca, Deborah Farina, Susan Rosczak, Thomas Flood, Barbara SanAngelo, Donna Flynn, Deborah Shea, Nancy Furey, Alfred Sive, Nancy Garmley, Kathryn A. Smith, Lawrence Gates, Polly Stahl, Georgia Grant and Scott Walroth.

About the Author

Rebecca Isenhart
Rebecca Isenhart is the reporter/writer for Your Niskayuna, presented by the Daily Gazette of Schenectady.