Pat Schoenig To Retire After 37 Years


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Hillbilly Faithful

Though Patricia Schoenig has been teaching phys ed at Verona High School for nearly four decades, and has announced her retirement at the end of the school year, she is every bit as enthusiastic today about her mission as she was when she started. “I’m very passionate about health and well-being,” she says. “I’ve always encouraged my students to give their best, physically and mentally.”

Her passion for encouraging her students’ physical pursuits was never confined to school hours. She has coached softball, cheerleading and boys’ and girls’ tennis, and will continue to work with the tennis team after her retirement, moving up to the head coach position vacated by Stephen Ruggiero. She even started a gymastics team in 1973 that she coached for several years until her first child was born. She was so determined to start the team that when the administration nixed the idea because of the expense of hiring a bus driver, Schoenig got her bus driver’s license and took on the task herself.

Schoenig was a familiar face at VHS sporting events, too. This past winter at a basketball game I witnessed her passion firsthand, as she tried to coach the Hillbilly faithful in their cheers from several rows away. Finally, she gave up and joined them,  climbing to the top risers to shout and cheer for the athletes with the rowdy bunch of students.

“It’s been a wonderful tenure,” she says. “The Verona school system is a wonderful place; they’ve always offered encouragement and nurtured  my professional growth.”

Schoenig is glad that she will continue to be involved with the school through the tennis team. “I’m very excited about that; it makes my transition into retirement much easier,” she says. She plans to spend more time with her husband Norm, who is Montclair State University’s baseball coach and her daughter Janine, who is married and lives in Verona. Her son Brian graduated from the Naval Academy in May and is stationed in San Diego.

When it comes to her legacy, she says, “I hope the students take some healthy habits with them for their lifetimes,” she says, “I hope I’ve left a little bit of a footprint.”

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Julia Martin Langan
Julia Martin Langan
Julia Martin Langan moved to Verona in 1989. A long-time journalist, she has been on the staff of Money, Sports Illustrated, Bride’s and Redbook magazines. Her articles on health and parenting appear in a variety of national publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Parents, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Self and Family Circle. She and her husband Greg have three school-aged children, and are members of Our Lady of the Lake Church. You can reach Julia at [email protected].



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