WARREN, NJ – Four Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) teachers will retire at the end of the 2017-18 School Year, Sunday, July 1, and another retired Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.
Retiring on July 1 are:
School Nurse Francine Dello Russo of the Health Office; Chemistry Teacher Victoria Hubinger of the Science Department; Student Assistance Counselor Julie Kumpf of the Guidance Department; and Physical Education Teacher Tom Loeffler of the Physical Education/Health Department; and
Retiring Dec. 1, 2017 was: Geometry Teacher Susan Sheldon of the Mathematics Department.
Francine Dello Russo
Francine Dello Russo first started working at WHRHS in 2008, after having worked for 36 years as a registered nurse in various nursing positions in hospitals.
At WHRHS, she has participated in a variety of programs, including Challenge Day, Intervention and Referral Team, Core Team, and the Emergency Response Team.
Dello Russo had worked previously at the St. Clare's Hospital - Dover campus. She worked in many positions, lastly as Pre-Admission Care Coordinator. Also, she had subbed as School Nurse in various schools.
She is a 1968 graduate of Netcong High School, Netcong.
Dello Russo began her nursing career at East Orange General Hospital School of Nursing, affiliated with Upsala College in East Orange. Her bachelor of science degree in Nursing was earned at College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station. She earned her Certification in School Nursing (CSN), from Caldwell University, Caldwell.
According to the proclamation resolution adopted by the WHRHS Board of Education, “Dello Russo successfully managed all facets of the health office responsibilities including: health record maintenance, communication with parents and doctors; development of nursing care plans; completion of state required health screenings; providing for and processing sports physicals; development of the nursing services plan; maintaining monthly reports of health office activities; preparing faculty and students to meet health requirements for field trips; providingfaculty training on Diabetes, severe allergies and classroom emergencies; training epinephrine and glucagon delegates; and communicating with faculty regarding student injuries, medical excuses and accommodations.”
Dello Russo also participated in the development of the health office Web page, and implemented standards and protocols for the treatment of students with severe allergies.
She is a member of the (SCSNA) Somerset County School Nurses Association. She has also served as an elected official on the Somerset Hills Board of Education from 2001 to 2006, and as secretary of the Bernardsvlle Board of Health, from 2008 to the present.
She, and her husband, Anthony Dello Russo, have five daughters, and eight grandchildren. “They are happy I will be able to spend more time with them in retirement,” she said. “My Mom and Dad, who are ‘forever young’ in their 90s, are thrilled too!”
Dello Russo said she and her family are planning another DelloRusso wedding this September, which will receive a lot of attention this summer, and otherwise, “Retirement will include returning as my self-employed husband's assistant in his newest building endeavors, traveling, gardening, volunteering, and exploring beaches on both the East and the West Coasts.”
Victoria Hubinger has been a teacher at WHRHS for 15 years. She started teaching in 1982 for the Union County Regional High School District which dissolved in 1997 then she went to work for Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield. In 1999, she resigned to stay home to raise her children. In 2003, she returned to teaching at WHRHS.
Hubinger is a graduate of Mount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung. She received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Cook College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where she also earned a Comprehensive Science Teaching Certificate Grades K-12. She received her master’s degree in Instruction and Curriculum from Kean College, now Kean University, Union, and has continued to earn some 30 additional credits in Geology, Meteorology, Oceanography and Astronomy. She studied the Geology of the islands of Hawaii on site in Hawaii.
At Union County Regional High School District, which included Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield, Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, David Brearley High School in Kenilworth and Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights, Hubinger taught a variety of science subjects, includingChemistry, Biology, Earth Science, Oceanography, Anthropology, Botany, Environmental Science, and Photography. From 1997 to 1999 at Johnathan Dayton, she taught Chemistry and Biology.
In other teaching assignments, Hubinger taught Photography at Union County Regional Adult School, and was a part-time Chemistry teacher from 1990-1992 at Bruriah High School, Jewish Education Center, Elizabeth. During the Summers of1987-1989, she was a Chemistry teacher in a program for minority students at Upsala College, East Orange, and Montclair State College, Montclair. In 1986 and 1987, she taught Chemistry as part of the Adjunct Faculty Science Technology Program at Union County College, Cranford.
While she was at Union County Regional High School District, Hubinger was at various times Cheerleading Coach, Right-to-Know Assistant, Science League Advisor, Science OlympicsCo-Advisor, Science Club Advisor, Student Council Advisor, and Home Instructor for Science. She also revised the curriculum for Honors Earth Science Program, served on the Principal’s Advisory Committee and the Union County Science Alliance.
Hubinger’s favorite science field trips, among the many she organized, she said, was to St. Thomas US Virgin Islands.
While at WHRHS, her professional activities and special assignments have been: Science League Coach Chem I team, member of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Team to coordinate Math and Science curriculum, ChemCom team leader, and new science teacher mentor. Sheassisted WHRHS Chem Olympics team in competition at Ryder University, was a member of Chemistry curriculum writing team, ACS Chem-TAG member, and worked with interdisciplinary groups towards Watchung Hills’ 5-year Strategic Plan. She helped design problem-based assessments for Chemistry through a grant awarded by the Connect-ED program at Rider University, Lawrence Township.
Hubinger was the 1994-1995 Teacher of the Year at Governor Livingston High School. She was inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education, while studying at Kean College. In 1989, she attended the National Science Teachers Association National Conference in Seattle, WA.
“At Watchung Hills I was a member of an outstanding chemistry team,” Hubinger said.” I also enjoyed working with the dedicated faculty and staff.”
Speaking about what she loved most about teaching, Hubingersaid:
“I loved helping shape the minds of my students in chemistry and instilling a love for science in them. I enjoyed raising the level of self-esteem of students who do not do well in chemistry by differentiating forms of instruction, making connections with previously learned material and relating chemistry concepts to practical application.”
Hubinger said she has several interests she intends to pursue in retirement.
“I plan to travel to new places, visit old friends, read more, spend more time with my husband Todd and two children, Clay, who is pursuing a career as a firefighter, and Tori, a senior studying marketing at Seton Hall University,” she said. “I hope to become more involved in the family business, go back to playing tennis, and spend more time ‘Down the Shore’.”
Julie Kumpf has been a Student Assistance Counselor (SAC) at WHRHS since 2002.
Kumpf is a licensed social worker, receiving both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree of Social Work at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She moved from Delaware to New Jersey during high school, and graduated from Columbia High School in Maplewood.
She married her college sweetheart, Carl Kumpf, she said, and has two grown children who both went to New Providence High School and Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. Her son, Kevin, is married and is a software engineer in Austin, Texas. Her daughter, Kristen, is a marketing director in New York City.
“In my career, I have previously worked with adolescents in a New York City residential treatment center, in the criminal justice system and in child protection,” she said. “After working in those systems, and spending some years at home raising my own children, I decided I wanted to work in a school, where I could interact with students before they were in crisis, to help build resilience, coping and confidence, and help prevent some of the issues that I saw in the agencies I had worked in.”
Kumpf said she worked as a social worker in the Special Education Department in Summit School District for two years, before coming to WHRHS as a SAC in 2002.
“I pursued the SAC position because of the opportunity to counsel students about a variety of issues, particularly mental health issues and substance abuse prevention, and the flexibility to design prevention and intervention programs and activities, such as Challenge Day,” she said.
As co-chairperson of the Wellness initiative, she said, she has been lucky to be able to help implement programs and activities that address the mental health of our school community.
“The conversation about wellness has become part of our current culture, and I think it is inspiring,” she said. “I was honored to be one of the recipients of the Teacher of the Year at WHRHS. In 2011, I received the Somerset County Youth Services Award for Professional Service to Youth.”
Kumpf has been a member of the Watching Hills Municipal Alliance for the past 16 years. She said the Alliance has helped her to continue the Challenge Day program by providing the primary funding since 2002.
“I could not ask for a better place to work all these years,” she said. “The nature of the job involves bonding with students, encouraging them to be their best selves, and guiding them to find the resources they need along the way. I love this job because I get to meet with students individually and really get to know them - to help counsel, coach and cheerlead them through some important years in their lives. It is one of the best jobs in the school!”
Kumpf said, “The people help make the difference. I have never worked with such a wonderful staff.”
“Sixteen years ago, when I first started in this field, SAC's were a luxury, and some schools didn't employ any. Luckily, our Administration felt it was important to provide more counselors, not less, as our school expanded, and I was hired as a second SAC. The Administration and staff have continued to support the position, for which I am grateful!”
Kumpf continued, “Adolescent issues change along with society, but we have a faculty that notices, cares and tries to adapt as well. The SAC's couldn't do the job alone, and it is great to have a staff that functions as counselors/mentors/coaches/role models to the kids - we are a pretty great village!”
She said that while it is hard to leave, she is looking forward to new challenges.
“At this time....as hard as it is to leave...it's time to focus on family and friends,” she said. “ My husband and I plan to move to Rehoboth, Del., in the next year. My daughter is getting married next May. Most family members live out west now, in Arizona and California, and I also plan to spend time with them. And I'm also finally going to take my mother on a road trip through the Carolinas, to see some of her family and friends.”
Tom Loeffler started working at WHRHS as Physical Education/Health Teacher at WHRHS in 1987. Two years later, he started the Project Adventure Program here. WHRHS was the first school in Somerset County, and only the third school in New Jersey, to offer Adventure Education. It has been offered ever since.
“It has been a huge success at WHRS,” he said. “It opens the experience of climbing to students, but also the educational challenges of problem-solving and group dynamics.”
He said it has been offered as an elective, and he has served as faculty advisor for the Adventure Education Club. He has also served as Ski Club Advisor.
Loeffler is a graduate of Union High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from East Stroudsburg State College, East Stroudsburg, Pa. He earned his master’s degree and another 60 credits at Kean College, Union.
For 23 years, he was a coach at WHRHS, coaching Football, Basketball and Track. Among the highlights of his coaching career, Loeffler’s Track teams won a number of Somerset County, Skyland’s Conference and Sectional titles.
Both of Loeffler’s children are graduates of WHRHS, and each competed in athletics here. His son, Tommy, was a three-letter athlete, including being selected as All-State in Football. His daughter, Danielle, competed on the Varsity Volleyball Team. Tommy went on to study Finance at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Danielle graduated from the University of Maryland and earned her master’s degree in Engineering from Georgetown, and is now working as a project manager in Morristown.
In retirement, Loeffler said he plans to continue working at his Pool Management Company, and is looking forward to doing some traveling to Key West, Fla., where he loves to go fishing.
“I really enjoyed working at WHRHS,” Loeffler said. “I enjoyed working with my colleagues. Particularly influential in my career and success were former Supervisor Mario Diaz, and former Principal Tom DiGanci.
Susan Sheldon, who taught at WHRHS from September 2001 to Dec. 1, 2017, has returned to live in Newark, Del., where she attended high school and college, and where her mother lives.
Sheldon is a 1972 graduate of Christiana High School in Newark. In 1976, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the of University of Delaware, Newark, andin 2007, she completed a master’s degree in Instruction from The College of New Jersey, Ewing Township.
Looking back on her time at WHRHS, she said, “I especially enjoyed teaching with three co-teachers this year.”
Sal Fazzino in his retirement speech at the Midyear Party said of Sheldon: “All those years of teaching Geometry L together, I saw firsthand your passion and your dedication to making the course a great one…great because you strove to not just maintain its rigor but to make sure it remained student centered.”
With regard to Sheldon’s love of professional development, Fazzino added: “It’s not just that you would listen to new ideas and be interested in them, it’s that you made a professional decision to try to adapt new strategies for teaching. I admire you for your willingness to try new things all the while still keeping the best interests of your students in mind.”
Sheldon explained what her immediate plans are in retirement.
“I chose to retire so that my husband, Paul, and I could live in a rental condo directly across the street from my 95-year-old mother to take care of her for the rest of her life. We shop for, cook and eat our main meal together midday. I am her transportation and companion to her activities and clubs, both community and church,” she said.
“We now live two hours from each of our children, Lauren and Jason, and have seen them more and together since moving,” Sheldon said. “I am also enjoying being in control of my time. I have not lacked for things to do; and work at planning my time to be active but to include down time as well.”
Looking ahead, Sheldon added, “I hope to be involved in the care of grandchildren in the future.”