Honoring 2020 Retirees
By Lauren Azrin and Mary O'Callaghan
Despite all that's going on, we can’t forget to honor this year’s WPHS retirees! These six staff members have worked for countless years in our district, and we are truly grateful for all that they have contributed to our community. We wish we could say thank you to them in person for all their hard work but are excited to share some of their favorite memories and experiences while working in the district.
One of the many teachers we are honoring this year is John Piccirillo, a WPHS science teacher. He has worked in the White Plains district for 20 years, as well as six years in the Bronx. Mr. Piccirillo loved to see his students enjoy the subject, while striving to pass the regents. He has also treasured the conversations that he has had with both his students and fellow faculty members, mentioning how, “Many of them were very constructive and positive, and helped to build me up as a teacher.” His favorite memory was his return to school after his recovery from leukemia. “I walked in the building and I felt again right at home with the same sense of confidence as before. The students treated me as if I was just the same teacher as before. They made me feel at home.” Mr. Piccirillo is grateful for the relationships he was able to build over time with his students, who would come to him for guidance outside of the classroom. He is now excited to work on bible research and various volunteer programs, as well as focusing on hobbies of bicycling, swimming, baking, and cooking.
Lea Baxter is a WPHS office assistant who has worked in the district for 30 years. Her favorite part about her job was seeing teachers and students, who she will miss seeing every day. Her favorite memory was watching her children perform on stage at their graduation ceremony. She now looks forward to pursuing her real estate career full time but will miss her colleagues immensely. She recognizes her fellow teachers saying, “We have the best staff anyone can ask for to work alongside.”
Enrique Cafaro has worked as a guidance counselor for 25 years, where he loved interacting with the “beautifully diverse student body and our White Plains community,” which he will miss most once he retires. His favorite memory was coaching and going undefeated with the JV football team. He is now looking forward to doing new things and taking on new challenges. He wishes the student body good luck in the future, with the message that, "You are a beautiful community of kids with the ability to change the world, make it a better place, and fix the mistakes that we have left you.”
Imani Bolling has been working in the White Plains district for 40 years as a social worker. She has loved that she’s always had the latitude to autonomously define her role. In addition to
counseling students, working with families, staff, and outside agencies, and providing a Committee on Special Education services, she's found it extremely gratifying to “develop and implement programs, go into classrooms to improve teaching and learning, and provide staff training.” She will miss the rewarding experience she has had working with students and watching them grow. Ms. Bolling said, “There is nothing more wonderful than helping a student find their voice and being a witness to the moment that they realize that the answers they are seeking are already within them.” She will also miss the SEED Club, which she co-advised, working on committees to create change, and her colleagues. She calls WPHS a second home, a place where she has greatly enjoyed honing her skills, taking risks, and experimenting with ideas, and she adds, “In truth, I would say that I grew and matured at WPHS as much as the students that I have had the pleasure of working with.” Her three favorite memories include running the WPHS Passages program working with a cohesive team of educators to empower students, working with the SEED Club to facilitate discussions that create a safe space for students to express their points of view on important social justice issues, and teaching a Peer Leaders course, where she trained over 200 students to be effective communicators and listeners. Her plans now include inspirational speaking, empowerment coaching, diversity training, educational consulting, social justice activism, and she “may even run for office someday. Who knows?”
Denise Velasquez & Linda Caffrey
We would also like to honor Denise Velasquez, a beloved counselor who retired last December, and Linda Caffrey, an esteemed nurse who retired this January. We are grateful for their hard work to help students in the district and wish we could honor them in person as well.
Thank you and good luck in the future to all six of this year's WPHS retirees!