SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Friends, family, and colleagues gathered at last week’s board of education meeting to honor several retiring South Plainfield School District teachers, faculty and staff members. 

“We are honored to have worked with such dedicated [people] who have spent their careers working with our students, serving as teachers, aides, mentors, and role models,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak. 

The 2017-2018 retirees include: District – Elaine Gallo and Laura Wachauf; South Plainfield High School – Patricia DeSantis, Arleen Hasselgren, and Peter Primmer; South Plainfield Middle School – Michael Capizola, Andrew Cefalo, and Barbara Jewkes; Grant School – Ellen Peterson and Theresa Tolischus; Kennedy Elementary School – Eileen Lorance; and Roosevelt Elementary School – Colleen Lazar and Michelle Santelli. 

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During the June 20 meeting, those present – Capizola, Lazar, Lorance, Peterson, and Santelli – were honored by their building principals, district administrators, and the board and presented with a framed certificate recognizing their years of service to the district. 

“Tonight is a special night of recognition,” said Roosevelt Principal Robert Diehl, who was present to honor Colleen Lazar and Michelle Santelli. 

Lazar served as teacher in South Plainfield for 12 years, working mainly with preschool children. Santelli, an educator for 34 years who worked for South Plainfield for 20 years, also served in preschool and kindergarten and was the school’s Veteran’s Affairs liaison. 

“We couldn't ask for two finer teachers in Ms. Lazar and Ms. Santelli…There’s a certain magic that happens in their classrooms and the jobs they have done is so important,” said Diehl. 

Grant School Principal Patrick Sarullo took to the podium to recognize math and science teacher Ellen Peterson.

“Ellen Peterson defines worth. She is the first one to show up and the last one to leave. She works hard,” said Sarullo, adding, “Mrs. Ellen Peterson will be missed at Grant School and we want to wish you congratulations.”

Kennedy Principal Kevin Hajduk told the crowd gathered that he had the ‘distinct honor’ of recognizing Eileen Lorance and Michael Capizola. 

Lorance worked at Kennedy School for 20 years serving as a paraprofessional alongside classroom teachers and assisting students with special needs. “Eileen’s commitment to our school district…and her continuous growth in Kennedy School and continuing to strive for excellence really made our school what it is today,” said Hajduk. 

Capizola, an educator for 43 years – 38 of which he worked in South Plainfield – served as a special education resource math and social studies teacher at the middle school and a high school cross country coach. “That is a commitment that most of us hope for,” said Hajduk, adding, “Mike always had a way of teaching confidence and dedication, not only in cross country but also in the classroom… and had an [ability] to help them grow inside and outside the classroom.” 

“I would like to congratulate the retirees and thank the teachers and students for another successful school year,” said South Plainfield Board of Education President William Seesselberg to close out the meeting. 

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