Teachers Who Made A Difference In Our Lives – Celebrating The Retiring Teachers at Long Beach High School

By: Alexis Carfagno

Another wonderful and successful school year is coming to a close, and as we all prepare for our finals and get ready for a fun and exciting summer, we all remember the fantastic memories from this past school year. Whether it was your first year at Long Beach High School, being a freshman and being able to look forward to a few more years in the school, or being a senior and enjoying the last moments of your high school career… this school year was definitely another memorable one for us all.

Many great things can be remembered from this year: class olympics, all the band, orchestra, and chorus concerts, sports games and Homecoming. In addition to all the events that are remembered, we have many individuals who we will always remember as making an important impact on all of our lives – our teachers.

All of our teaches have enlightened us all with so much knowledge and helped us be able to challenge ourselves. A few remarkable teachers at Long Beach High School will be retiring this year. Although they may not be working in the building again next year, all of their knowledge and the inspiration they sparked in students will forever be in Long Beach High School and be passed down as new students continue to fill up the halls each year.

Here at The Tide, we would like to highlight the teachers who will be retiring this year and thank them for all they have done over the spectacular years they have taught at this school. Mr. Verde, Ms. Bellsey, Mr. Rooney, Ms. Wolk and Ms. Starkey all have made such important impacts on the lives of the students. We truly thank these teachers for everything they have done. Their passion for their work and their talent in their craft makes them the stupendous teachers they truly are.

1.What was the experience like for you teaching / working at Long Beach High School? 

Mr. Rooney: During my 33 years in Long Beach, my teaching duties were split between the middle school and the high school.  During many occasions, I would teach students in both buildings.  It was a pleasure seeing them grow up and become young men and women ready to attend college or join the working world right out of high school.

Ms. Bellsey: I loved working at Long Beach High School. I was lucky to have taught some of the most wonderful and talented students who have really touched my heart. Not only was teaching here great, but the faculty and staff have become my family.

Mr. Verde: Working at LBHS was a great experience! Working with my students every day was a challenging and rewarding experience!

Mrs. Starsky: When I first came to Long Beach in October of 1977, I thought I had found paradise. The beauty of this beach island community combined with the camaraderie of the staff and the students was a dream come true. I have enjoyed every day of my teaching career here, and I have formed relationships that willlast a lifetime.

2.What was your favorite part about being a part of the Long Beach High School faculty? 

Mr. Rooney: The comraderie between teachers in a given department has been a wonderful experience.  Giving advice to younger teachers on many aspects of teaching and family life is a special part of my day in the high school.  I am glad to exchange my experiences for their piece of mind.  Additionally, reminding people of some of the past policies that have been in place as they try to make long beach high school a better place is an invaluable tool for any administration or advisory committee.  I take pride in sharing this information with them.

Ms. Bellsey: My favorite part of being part of the Long Beach High School faculty was meeting so many great educators and students. I was also honored to be part of the building committee and to serve as a union officer.

Mr. Verde: The Long Beach faculty is a hard-working, dedicated group of professional educators. They are supportive, helpful and fun! It was an honor and privilege for me to work along side them for 37 years.

Mrs. Starsky: The Long Beach High School faculty is compassionate, professional, multifaceted, fun-loving, and sspontaneous. With special events such as Challenge Day, Relay for Life, service opportunities, and art and music events, the faculty has an opportunity to come together as extended family not just professional educators. One of the most powerful examples of this was the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. For those of us who were here, words aren’t necessary. For those who weren’t, words are not enough.

3.You have enriched students with so much knowledge over the years. Do you feel as though you have learned anything from the students as well? 

Mr. Rooney: Today’s world is a tough place to grow up in.  Being a good listener is sometimes the best thing I can do for the students.  They are faced with so many things at home and in school that the proper guidance is needed by all to help them get through it.  Realizing that school may not always be the top thing on their mind made me a better teacher over these years.  Students know they can always come to me for advice.

Ms. Bellsey: One of the best parts of teaching is certainly being able to make a difference in the lives of my students, but they have enriched my life as well. It has been so amazing to be part of their lives, and I am lucky to have the kind of relationships with my students where they share what has happened in their lives. As a teacher, you learn so much about your students.  It is a privilege to be part of your students’ lives and I can truly say that I learned something new from my students every day.

Mr. Verde: My students taught me many things over the years. They taught me the latest in fashion, music, slang words and technology. Many of my classes that involved new technology were often aided by student knowledge and help. More importantly,my students also taught me examples of kindness, perseverance, overcoming adversity (especially the Sandy experience), trying your very best and reaching all levels of success.

Mrs. Starsky: My philosophy is that we learn from each other every day. I offer my students, first and foremost, character education. Integrity, emotional and social intelligence, confidence and self-esteem, and respect for themselves and for others. My students have brought me from the pre digital world to the information overload era and that is a never ending lesson.

Mrs. Wolk:I remember being interviewed thirty years ago and being asked the question, “Why did you choose this profession?”   It took thirty years for me to be able to answer this question.

My husband reminded me the other night as I was thinking about the past that when he first met my family my mother told him this, “When Susan was a little girl she would walk around the block and look for birds with broken wings. She would bring them home and ask her father to fix their wings and if he couldn’t she would cry. She would say it’s not fair. Why did this have to happen to this bird? Please try harder”.  My husband also reminded me that it wasn’t just the birds my mother was talking about. She also told him, “If there was any kid being bullied at school, Susan would invite them over. She wanted to make everything alright”.

Well, it’s now thirty years later and I can honestly say I know I can’t make everything alright. However, I might be able to answer the question a little easier.  Life hasn’t changed me that much. I realize now as I look back why I went into teaching … it wasn’t to always mend the broken wings of others. To all my students that I have had in the past thirty years at Long Beach High School. Thank you for mending my broken wings.

4. If you could bring out a message / word of advice to all the current and future students of Long Beach High School, what would it be? 

Mr. Rooney: The better you do in school, the better job you can get.  Show the world what you are capable of from day 1 until you graduate. Then, and only then, will you reap the benefits of your efforts!  Good luck to you all!

Ms. Bellsey: One of the best parts of teaching is certainly being able to make a difference in the lives of my students but they have enriched my life as well. It has been so amazing to be part of their lives and I am lucky to have the kind of relationships with my students where they share what has happened in their lives. As a teacher, you learn so much about your students – it is a privilege to be part of your students’ lives and I can truly say that I learned something new from my students every day.

Mr. Verde: Dream Big, Work Hard, Never stop trying your best! Judge people fairly and honestly based on their character and their actions. Thank you. I have had a “Wonderful Life” as a teacher at LBHS.

Mrs. Starsky: Bill Gates summed it up perfectly in his rules for life. I’ve selected my favorites for you:

 Rule 1: Life is not fair — get used to it!

 Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

 Rule 3: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 4: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping — they called it opportunity.

 Rule 5: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 6: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life
Rule 7: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Mrs. Wolk: I would like to quote Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Please take Atticus’ advice!

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