As the school year drew to a close in June, Mohonasen employees receiving tenure and those who were slated to retire from the district or transition out of their current positions at the end of the academic year were celebrated at a reception by district officials, school board members, coworkers and families. The Mohonasen community expressed their gratitude to the group for their dedication to students and advancing the quality of education at district schools.
The comments below the photos were provided by district administrators about the employees celebrated at the reception.
Bradt Principal Michele Whitley: Deb has celebrated 29 years with Mohonasen. She was the first teacher to welcome me to Bradt. She not only welcomed me, but she wanted to team with me, and since day one, she has been a mentor. Deb is always sharing her resources, helping me to become organized and showing me the “ropes.” I know that she has done this for other teachers through the years as well. She is so incredibly thoughtful. She is always there to make her amazing lasagna and brighten a day with flowers. She thinks of our family members, remembering important events in their lives. She is one of a kind.
Draper Principal Debra Male: Mr. Fine taught at Mohonasen for 17 years — with the last few of his career in Draper Middle School’s sixth grade. Mr. Fine mentored many students, particularly those who loved hands-on instruction. He brought in old bicycles for students to repair during their advisory periods and after school and also brought in wood so that students could draw, design and build a “medieval castle” for the sixth-grade Medieval Day! Mr. Fine taught math and science 6 and will be greatly missed by his students and staff.
Draper Principal Debra Male: Jeff Jackson has been at Mohonasen for sixteen years, seventh as our Rotterdam Police School Resource Officer and then nine years as Head of Safety and Security for the district. Jeff initiated our security procedures including guest sign-in to buildings, lockdown and weather evacuation procedures, SWAT practices and strategies in schools and traffic flow on campuses — just to name a few things. Mohonasen has been a leader and model for other school districts, police departments and fire departments thanks to his foresight. In his retirement, Jeff is looking forward to enjoying time with his family (including grandchildren), camping and motorcycling.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Christopher Ruberti: Most people know Jeff as our Director of Security. However, for those of us who have been here for a few years, we will remember that he was actually a School Resource Officer in the district for seven years before filling the director role. After making a tremendous impact as an SRO, he has really stood out in his role as our Director of Security for the past nine years. As school safety has continually come to the forefront over the past several years, we have been fortunate to be ahead of the curve through Jeff’s expertise and investment in the Director of Security position. He has designed and refined numerous drills over the years including lockdowns, lockouts, relocation drills and weather drills — well before most districts considered doing them. Thanks to his work, our students and staff are prepared for anything that comes their way, and I feel a great sense of pride when I see how everyone has reacted during drills and real lockout or lockdown situations. Police and fire officials, as well as other districts and school resource officers continually give high praise to Mohonasen’s security efforts. In addition to these responsibilities, Jeff oversees school monitors and has been in charge of their training. He has also done annual trainings for special education staff members to ensure a safe school environment for everyone. Jeff always brought a unique set of skills to Mohonasen; when we were hiring for his current position, we received plenty of interest from a variety of applicants, but there was no one with Jeff’s qualifications. On top of his focus on school safety, Jeff has also helped to enhance educational programming for our students. Within Mo-Tech, Jeff has assisted with a practical, hands-on program that gives students coursework and real life experiences related to the field of criminal justice. Although this was an entirely new responsibility for Jeff, he jumped right in and was a major driving force in its development. His connections with the law enforcement community have had a huge impact on the development of the program and have helped students to learn about state police aviation, corrections, Zone 5 police academy, Choices 310 Drug and Alcohol Assessment, alcohol, tobacco, firearms and more. Thanks to Jeff’s guidance and contributions, the program has grown from eight students in his first year to 26 in its most recent year and now includes articulation agreements with Schenectady County Community College so students can receive college credit for their work before even graduating from high school. As impressive as Jeff has been in his work and all of these roles, he is an even better person. Jeff has been a source of support for the district, including faculty and staff members, and he has been a friend to everyone. He is a great father and a dedicated person. No matter what came his way, Jeff always made himself available to us and was always here for Mohonasen. We wish him all the best and hope that he enjoys his travel and outdoor activities that he loves so much. Good luck, Jeff — you will be missed!
Mohonasen High School Principal Lisa Patierne: The woman, the myth, the legend! Although I have not had a great amount of time working with Mrs. Lockwood, I feel as though I’ve known her forever. When I first started at Mohonasen, I heard so many wonderful things about Mrs. Lockwood. So many people, faculty, staff, students and parents raved about what an extraordinary counselor and person she was. People said she was one of the kindest people they’ve ever known, yet she will tell you exactly how it is. In fact, she was known to have faculty and staff come into her on a regular basis for a dose of her reality. She cares so much about her students and their families, and she does whatever it takes to help them be successful. Mrs. Lockwood will truly be missed. I wish her a fantastic retirement filled with many years of peace, joy and love. Thank you for your service to the Mohonasen community.
Bradt Principal Michele Whitley: Kristen is a member of our district who is full of energy, and she brings her talents to bolster her love of working with children. She is a dedicated advocate for her students, and in her time here, Kristen has become an extremely helpful team member for all those who have had the pleasure to work with her.
Bradt Principal Michele Whitley: I have had the pleasure to work with Sheila over the past two years in her teaching career, and she strikes as one of the most loving and nurturing educators with whom I’ve worked. She always has a smile on her face, and the children are always her top priority. I recently said to her during one of our conversations that she was clearly born to be a first-grade teacher. She balances all aspects of a child’s development to help them learn and grow. After 30 years, she is still here when I am leaving the building on late nights or during events. She is extremely dedicated to the field and her profession. She is extremely professional and thorough in everything that she does. We hope that parents remember her for her love of their students and hand-written notes home. A resident fashionista at Bradt, it has always been a joy to chat with Sheila about her interests (including coffee), and she always has a smile on her face. We thank Mrs. Martin for her years of dedication to our school district and we wish her the very best as she enters her retirement enjoying all that life has to offer in this next chapter.
Bradt and Pinewood Assistant Principal Laurel Jones: On behalf of Mrs. Kavanaugh and I, we would like to congratulate Mrs. Nelson on her retirement. Mrs. Nelson has been a dedicated teacher at Mohonasen since 1991. Throughout her career, she has always been an active member of our school community holding various leadership roles both at the building level as a fifth-grade teacher as well as at the district level. Mrs. Nelson has been the advisor of Pinewood’s fourth and fifth grade Math Olympiad team for many years as well as an integral part of the Pinewood Scoop since its birth where she worked with students and other faculty members to bring weekly school news to our classrooms every Friday morning. Mrs. Nelson also served on our district wide Teaching is Core Team, APPR Committee,and our K-5 Technology Committee, to name a few. In addition to committee work, Mrs. Nelson loved attending student school events. Our students and faculty always looked forward to her attendance at our annual Halloween Dance where she appeared as a different character each year. When you think of Pinewood, you think of Sue Nelson. It’s hard to believe she won’t be with us next year, however, we know that her next journey will include making wonderful memories with her children and grandchildren, traveling and attending various live performances. Thank you, Mrs. Nelson, for your dedication to our students, families and to our district.
Bradt Principal Michele Whitley: Liz is a reading specialist at the elementary level. She has been working in Mohonasen for seven years — both subbing and in long term positions, and she has grown tremendously during this time. She has taught in grade levels ranging from second to fifth, and she currently teaches at both Bradt and Pinewood. Something that is truly evident about Liz is that she sets high expectations for herself and others — particularly for her students, despite the fact that she works student who encounter various struggles. She has become a respected member of our AIS teams. She consistently contributes and shares ideas. She has built upon our existing team, and they continue to push one another to do their best by being proactive and staying on the cutting edge. Inside the classroom, if you were to watch Liz teaching, you would see that her students are highly engaged and that her lessons are truly student-centered. Her students would describe her as funny and have commented that she makes reading exciting. Students often linger in her classroom because they enjoy being around her. Liz’s colleagues say that she is dynamic, supportive, collegial and helpful, and I have personally seen her creativity and flexibility in action. She often works to exceed her own expectations, and she prides herself in developing relationships with students, families and colleagues. Liz devotes a lot of time and energy to her profession, and outside of work, she enjoys traveling, reading and fashion.
Mohonasen High School Principal Lisa Patierne: Mr. Shaffer has been a true asset to Mohonasen High School as our assistant principal, as well as to the Mohonasen family. As a person who was born and raised in the town of Rotterdam, he has a true commitment to the district. In fact, he and his family moved away for a while, but he felt a calling to come back “home.” Mr. Shaffer has demonstrated excellent skills as a building leader as well as an educator. His gentle demeanor, his wit and his ability to make light of things has served him well in this role. Students know he cares about them, but that he will also hold them accountable. His love of social studies (and Star Wars) is evident in the work he does with students and teachers. When he talks about teaching, he lights up. He is able to make amazing connections with students. In fact, two former students came looking for him at the prom and a few current seniors went out of their way to “prank” Mr. Shaffer. They went so far as to fill a kiddie pool up in his office, fill it with fish and come in at 6:30 a.m. so they would be sitting in their “fishing attire” (poles and all) waiting for him to arrive. That is a real tribute to Mr. Shaffer. Although Mr. Shaffer has been tenured as an assistant principal, he has chosen to follow his passion and head back to the classroom. I am saddened to see him leave my administrative team because he is truly an integral part of it. However, I am grateful that we get to keep him in our building as an amazing teacher and he continues to be part of our “Mohonasen family.” I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Shaffer and thank him for all of the help and support he has given me this year and for all of the work he has done on behalf of students, faculty, staff and the Mohonasen community as a whole.
Draper Principal Debra Male: Rose taught reading at Draper and Bradt Schools. Her warm smile and laugh were contagious; students felt immediately comfortable around her and were able to feel more confident in their reading and writing. Her love for the students was evident, as all students greeted her in the hallway each morning.
Bradt Principal Michele Whitley: Rose has served Mohonasen for 28 years, and she has served in the role of literacy specialists at both Bradt and Pinewood. She is very kind to her students as a reading specialist and prides herself in getting to know all of her students. Rose is always thoughtful about others, their feelings and what may be going on in their lives. She is very humorous and has a contagious laugh, and school really his her second home. Rose really enjoys working with both her Bradt and Draper families. Rose loves reading, is an avid gardener, enjoys the little things in life, is very family-oriented and adores her grandchildren, loves going to Saratoga, treasures traditions (especially the Christmas Eve nights she spends with her family) and is a kind, sentimental person. Our team will miss Rose, and we wish her much enjoyment in her retirement.
Mohonasen High School Principal Lisa Patierne: Mrs. Spore brings so much energy and excitement to teaching that it makes me want to be a student in her classroom. She teaches with such enthusiasm and commitment, and students love being in her class. The thing I love most about Mrs. Spore’s class is that she breaks down the process of writing for students so that when they leave her class, they certainly know how to construct a paragraph with all of the important elements. Mrs. Spore is a very genuine person and is willing to do what it takes to help each one of her students. She cheers them on and encourages them to do their best. The other day, I was walking past her classroom on my way to a meeting, and her students were taking their final, where she had encouraging words on bright colored paper posted all over the room. She is a well-respected member of the faculty and her knowledge, passion for teaching, students, and learning, and commitment to students make her an important part of our Mohonasen family. Congratulations to Mrs. Spore, and I look forward to many great years with you!
Bradt and Pinewood Assistant Principal Laurel Jones: Mrs. Kavanaugh and I would like to congratulate Mrs. Strichman on her retirement. Mrs. Strichman has been a general music teacher at Pinewood School since 1996. In addition to working with students at Pinewood School, Mrs. Strichman has also taught several of our BOCES classrooms at Draper Middle School. In addition to classroom teaching, Mrs. Strichman works closely with her department to bring her love of music to our school through her participation her Flag Day (where she often made an appearance as Betsy Ross), as well as planning, and executing several other successful student ensembles throughout the school year. In addition to serving as the advisor of our fourth and fifth grade choir, Mrs. Strichman was also the advisor of our chamber choir for many years. In addition to her dedication to teaching her love of music by incorporating song, dance, technology and instruments into her instruction, Mrs. Strichman has been extremely involved in music and theatre throughout various area communities. She has inspired thousands of students to sing and make music — many of them credit her with their beginnings in music, and several have gone on to be music teachers themselves. Among her accomplishments with students, all of the high school a capella group members that went to their national semi-finals this year started singing here at Pinewood with her. We thank Mrs. Strichman for her years of dedication to our school district, and we wish her the very best as she enters her retirement enjoying additional time at her camp, as well as continuing with her love of music through continued involvement with community events.
Mohonasen High School Principal Lisa Patierne: Mr. Veeder is one of those people who light up a room when he walks in. His charisma, his humor, his love of teaching and his dedication to students, learning and Mohonasen make him an amazing teacher, educator and colleague. Mr. Veeder makes bonds with students that help to motivate them and get them to work harder. He works with some of our students who are facing the biggest educational challenges, and he gets great things out of them. He is always in the hallways laughing, joking and setting a positive tone in the building. His classroom is exciting, and his enthusiasm for both English and social studies is contagious. Mr. Veeder is also a team player, and he works very well with his colleagues. I can always count on him to make faculty meetings fun and exciting. Mr. Veeder’s personality, sense of humor, charisma, passion for education and learning contribute to a great climate at Mohonasen High School. I can always count on him no matter what the circumstances are. It is my pleasure to congratulate Mr. Veeder on his tenure and to say thank you for all that he does for Mohonasen High School. I am thankful you are part of the Mohonasen family.
Draper Principal Debra Male: Dale has taught Social Studies at Mohonasen for 17 years — 16 of them at Draper Middle School. His love and passion for history, particularly local history, was evident in the many historic field trips that he facilitated for students. Some of the many trips were: Ellis Island, Hyde Park and Washington D.C. He also sits on the Board of the historic Mabee Farm here in Rotterdam Junction and has significantly impacted the visitors’ center there. Seventh graders attended Colonial Days at the Mabee Farm yearly, due to Mr. Wade-Keszey’s involvement. Students immensely enjoyed his guitar playing and how he sang pieces from historical time periods. Mr. Wade-Keszey moves on in his retirement as a member of a blue grass band, “Everest Rising.”