Special education teacher Nancy McMullen, art teacher Gary Kerschner and Italian teacher Anthony Russo are retiring at the end of the year. Russo and McMullen both hope to continue to teach after they leave. Courtesy Pioneer Yearbook.
Starting next year, students will no longer hear the characteristic Italian opera drifting out of Room 244 as they pass by the language hallway.
Italian teacher Anthony Russo is retiring at the end of this year, along with art teacher Gary Kerschner and special education teacher Nancy McMullen. Russo began teaching one year after the Italian program started and has continued to develop the program for 17 years. McMullen, a Conestoga graduate, has taught here for 27 years, while Kerschner has been teaching at Conestoga for 42 years.
While these teachers will not return next year, Russo has plans for the future—teaching Italian to adults and possibly singing. Russo said he will especially miss the “positive student reactions” and “excitement for learning,” but hopes to continue to receive such reactions from adults.
Russo’s son, math teacher Vincent Russo, said that he enjoyed working alongside his father for eight years.
“We both really treasure this opportunity to teach at the same time and place and be colleagues as well as father and son,” Vincent Russo said. “It’s really been an exceptional experience for us.”
Vincent Russo added that his father was an inspiration to him to begin a teaching career.
“During my early years, [my father] gave me guidance because he had been here a while and knew how things worked,” Vincent Russo said. “Even though our disciplines are different, his passion for his Italian inspires me to share my passion with my kids.”
Junior Katherine Connolly had Anthony Russo as a teacher and enjoyed his methods of teaching.
“Mr. Russo always makes class interesting with his classic quips from ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘The Godfather,’” Connolly said. “I can’t imagine him not teaching Italian, so I can understand why he would still want to teach adults.”
Similar to Anthony Russo, McMullen hopes to continue teaching, but by acting as a substitute and tutoring after school. Because of her experiences with elementary school students as part of REACH and Peer Mediation, she wants to work with younger students as well.
“I enjoy working with older age groups because it’s stimulating mentally in the subject areas,” McMullen said. “I love all age groups, though, so I want to substitute for all ages.”
Junior Chelsea Harbison had McMullen as a teacher this year and said she will miss McMullen’s teaching style.
“I’ll miss her [because] she’s always so bubbly,” Harbison said. “She’s always so excited to see her students and [is] a great teacher.”
While both McMullen and Anthony Russo have various activities planned for the future, both retain fond memories of Conestoga and its students. Anthony Russo said he will remember the bonding experiences he gained from having students for all three years of Italian, as well as Italian Culture Day.
McMullen said that as she continues to teach and also tutor after school, what she will remember most of all is the relationships formed with the faculty and students.
“I will miss the faculty and the intelligence, the group of people, the creativity,” McMullen said. “I don’t of people to work with.”