Retirements At VHS, HBW, Forest, Laning

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Verona public schools
The Board of Education disclosed the upcoming retirements and resignations of educators and staff at several Verona schools.

Deborah Gero, a second-grade teacher at Forest Avenue elementary school, will retire on June 30. Elizabeth
Foley, most recently an administrative assistant at Laning Avenue elementary school, and Allison Quick, an English teacher at Verona High School, will retire on July 1. Yvette McNeal, the principal of the Olmstead house at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School, will retire on September 1. The BOE also accepted the resignation of Ilissa Abovitz, a speech language therapist at Laning, who is relocating out of the area.

Quick has been teaching since 1992, and been at VHS since 1995. Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio, whose son had Quick as a teacher, praised her contributions to education in Verona. “She’s a really challenging teacher, a positive teacher, she’s motivating,” he said. “She’s incredibly brilliant, and my son still talks about her to this day, not only about her as a teacher, and what he learned in the classroom but her the person and she’s just leaving a legacy here for all of our students.”

Lisa Freschi, the BOE president, noted that she had worked with Foley while she was a para-professional at HBW, and that McNeal, Quick and Gero had all been involved with her sons’ educations. “I reached out to each of them personally to just thank them for the dedication, professionalism and passion that they brought to the classroom,” Freschi said. “My kids still talk about all of them.”

Added Board member Sara Drappi, a Laning parent, “I want to give a personal thank you to Mrs. Foley, who has single-handedly carried the Drappi girls through Laning. Any teacher knows that the lifeblood of an elementary school is the administrative assistant and the nurse. Mrs. Foley has been invaluable in that school.”

Tim Alworth, who joined the Board in 2019, extended his thanks to Gero, who had taught his oldest child. “She was always positive and made everything fun,” he said. “My son came home thrilled every single day.”

Jim Day, who is in his third term on the BOE, said that, when McNeal came to HBW, “everything changed.” “I think the students really were able to learn in a more inclusive and transparent and open type format,” Day added, “where the teachers were able to do what they needed to do.”

The BOE did not speak about how, or if, the various positions would be filled at Tuesday’s meeting, which also included an overview of the 2021-22 school budget. McNeal had been the sole principal at HBW until 2015, when Dr. Dionisio split the school in two and put McNeal in charge of its Olmsted House and David Galbierczyk in charge of its Carnegie House.

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