Jean Puff Anchors Her Last Field Day At Spotswood's Schoenly School

Kindergartener Carmine Gonnella is concentrating hard during the Bottle Pick-Up game at the Schoenly School's annual Field Day celebration. Credits: Dawn Miller
Credits: Dawn Miller
Nothing got by first grader Brendan Thaisz when he was in goal for the soccer shoot. Credits: Dawn Miller
Tug-of-War is always popular at Field Day. Credits: Dawn Miller
Credits: Dawn Miller
Kids had a blast walking like Bigfoot. Credits: Dawn Miller
Credits: Dawn Miller

SPOTSWOOD, NJ - It was a bittersweet Field Day for the staff, students and parents at the Schoenly School on Friday, June 2. The sun was shining. Kids were smiling and having a blast. However, it would be the final Field Day at the pre-kindergarten through first grade school for veteran physical education teacher, Jean Puff. Puff will be retiring from the Spotswood School District after 39 years.

"This is the best weather I've ever had for Field Day," Schoenly Principal Nancy Torchiano said. "This is just perfect, but it's kind of bittersweet because it's Mrs. Puff's last field day. Thirty-nine Field Days she's done."

Shadowing Puff for her final field day at Schoenly was Jill Hetzler. Hetzler is currently a physical education teacher at Spotswood High School. However, the girls varsity basketball coach will be taking over the reins for Puff in September.

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A lot of prep work goes into Field Day with most of it being done behind the scenes by Puff before the big day. Games are set up all along the side and back of the Kane Street school with a few taking place in the front. Teachers run each game. The kindergarteners are paired with a first grader and the children can go from game to game while the pre-kindergarten classes stay together as a group.

"Field Day is all hands on deck," Torchiano said with a smile.

Everyone from the office staff to parent volunteers were out of the lawns helping kids or taking youngsters inside for a bathroom trip. Parents were invited to stop by to watch while the students were outside. However, there were more than a few tears when it was time for the kids to go in and moms and dads to go home.

Puff too was all smiles as she showed Hetzler the ropes and watched the students run about from game to game.

"Sad, but happy," Puff said when asked how she felt about her final Field Day at Schoenly. "I'll miss the kids, but it's time to go on to a new phase in my life."

Travel is definitely on Puff's agenda once her retirement is official though any long range plans will have to wait until her husband retires in a year.

"I'll have a year to myself," Puff said with a grin.

The couple also has a boat and is looking forward to traveling abroad as well as enjoying time on the water.

Before heading back to their classrooms, the children savored an ice pop, courtesy of the Spotswoood PTA.

"It was really nice to see so many parents visit and enjoy the experience with their children," Torchiano said. 
"A big thank you to Mrs. Puff and our staff for making a treasured memory for our students."
Puff will be honored along with the other retirees in the Spotswood School District at the board meeting on June 6 and she'll still have one more Field Day to lend a hand in. In addition to Schoenly, Puff also assists Appleby Elementary School's physical education teacher, Michael Reid. Puff teaches a few classes at the second through fifth grade school as well and of course is out on the field for Appleby's Field Day too. Appleby's Field Day is scheduled for Friday, June 9, weather permitting.



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