LOVINGSTON, NJ - When first graders learned their Spanish teacher Ronnie Konner was retiring, the meaning got lost in translation.
Señora Konner, they said, “we hear you are tired.”
On Thursday, May 15, Señora Konner was among the school employees honored by the Livingston Education Association for their public service. Livingston has 22 teachers and staff retiring this year, with 10 attending with their families and friends for the formal send off at a testimonial dinner at the Wilshire Grand Hotel. Scores of teachers, administrators, and many other former staffers now retired applauded the achievements of their colleagues.
“I will always be proud that I’ve been a teacher in Livingston,” said Nora Lichtenstein, a reading specialist whose grandson joined her at the podium. A motorcycle is in her future. “Reading teacher turns biker babe,” Lichtenstein joked as she visualized the morning headline.
For the other retirees, travel is also among their plans. Señora Konner plans to Skype with Livingston students from Mexico when she visits the sister school she introduced to students. Many said they plan to read and tackle honey-to-do lists.
ESL teacher Barbara Whitehill is stepping out with ballroom dancing.
Richard Stella, LHS math teacher, is going back to school for graduate classes in the liberal arts—and standup comedy.
Hosts for the evening, Jeannie Connell and Lorraine Gullo, Harrison Elementary kindergarten teachers, paid tribute to the contributions of the honored guests, including physical education teacher Linda Purtell (27 years), science teacher David Heithmar (34 years) and custodian Louis Caberson (31 years).
Middle school secretary Lois Kaplan was described as the backbone, heart and soul of Mt. Pleasant, while Sergio Jara the head custodian at LHS has yet to find something he cannot fix.
Vincent Corrado, credited with counseling and character education in his role supervising in-school suspensions at LHS, quoted Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want,” in his farewell. But if you try sometimes, Corrado said, you just might find you already have it. “You’re what I need. You’re what I want,” he said of the support of his colleagues.
See a slide show of photos from the 39th Annual Testimonial Dinner by clicking HERE.
The full list of honorees are: Randy Bier, Louis Caberson, Thomas Cannizzo, Vincent Corrado, Edward Gallagher, Carol Geers (in memoriam), David Heithmar, Sergio Jara, Lois Kaplan, Ronnie Konner, Patricia LaGrand, Susan Levine, Nora Lichtenstein, Michael Perry, Lucy Preisler, Linda Purtell, Anthony Schmaus, Phyllis Schandler, Kenneth Schwartz, Richard Stella, Mary Suessmann, and Barbara Whitehill.