Helping You Become All You are Capable of Becoming
In Honor of Connie's Retirement
In June 2009, Connie will officially be retired from the Hillsborough County School System. This however does not mean that Connie will no longer be working with children, it just means she will be following a different path to serve kids.
On May 5, 2009, her school Heritage Elementary School gave her a Retirement Party. You can view the pictures of her party at:
During the party Connie received many warm words of gratitude, respect, and admiration from her fellow teachers and colleagues. The program for this event was organized and MC'ed by Connie's good friend Gail Hutton who really did a bang up job with it! Connie was also given warm words from her two children daughter Melissa and son Steven:
Melissa sent in these loving words:
I am sorry I can’t be there to say this in person. I know your teaching has inspired more than just your students; it has encouraged the teachers around you to strive to those same levels of excellent and service.I know all those times I visited your classroom, watched your prepare lessons, and observed you with your students has rubbed off for the better on my teaching.I strive to find things in the community to reinforce and make the curriculum meaningful, to have my classroom be a welcoming and positive environment, to build a sense of community among my students, to focus on the positive, and to never lose my sense of humor.Thanks for all you have done for all the students who have been lucky to be in your classes and for leading by example, making everyone around you a better teacher and person. With love, your daughter Melissa
Mom, I am sad that I cannot be with you today. It seems a foreign and almost impossible topic to comprehend: You retiring. You are someone that has always been an inspiration to me, in that you are just not someone that messes around. You are someone who makes teaching the most challenging children, look easy and almost effortless. You interact with them, and get them to refocus with ease. You have a work ethic that does not quit. As a teacher, you approach your job with passion, and you are a fearless advocate for your students. For me, it is incredible to see the indelible impact you make on your kids, particularly when they return to you, after finishing college and starting a life of their own, and convey that you were the most influential reason that they were so successful.
I cannot help but work my ass off to achieve and perform at a Dr. Messina level. If I ever doubt the impact that one person can make in this world, I think of you. Sara and I agree, that there is no better role model for living life, and working to make a difference. I know that with this transition, you will "retire," but you will never lose that tireless drive to continue teaching and learning. I love you and I hope you enjoy the fellowship of your coworkers and fellow teachers, celebrating you and your legacy.
Connie also had a poem read to her by her husband Jim:
From Jim: The Apple
That day I met her in January ’70, she was the apple of my eye! Unfortunately so soon out of the cloister made me all too shy! She was the reading teacher, I the school counselor She was experienced I was a babe in the woods! She was one dedicated young teacher bringing her students in to see me all the time I the motivated counselor wanted to do all I could for them never thinking of her scheme She was good at what she did so I referred more and more students to her And on her part she’d show up at my office with more work for me to attend to Finally after three years I left Hamburg Junior High to pursue my Ph.D. She hung around the front doors on Thursdays when I would return weekly to do my research Again I was oblivious to the direction this dance was taking us She never gave up the pursuit - thank goodness! She knew she had the apple of fulfillment for me If I would just slow down for her to teach me the code Finally on my birthday in ‘73 she sent me a gift based on my years of monkhood I was touched and called back to say thanks and from then on it was history On Mother’s Day ’73 I gave her my heart entwined with hers On August 3rd in ‘73 we wed And we never looked back! She has been the apple of my eye ever since Now on her retirement let me offer her one last apple for her teaching prowess Thanks you Connie for being you! All these wonderful years in and outside of the classroom! May the shine of your apple never dim! Love
The above poem was not the first written for Connie by her husband. Here is a poem he wrote for her on the occassion of her 60th birthday which seems very apropo on the occassion of her retirment. Have a look and see if you do not agree!
A heartfelt gift for her birth and first six decades
A life filled with grace, wisdom, and flare
A symbol as meaningful and true
As its wearer’s veracity, intellect, and charm
Made of precious metals and stones to remind all
Of the recipient’s value to all she knows and loves
A golden soul guardian from lengthy heated purifying
So too the bearer purified by challenges of life and pain
A circle of links with no beginning or end
As eternal and perfect as her tethered love to all
A permanent token as faithful and true
As she is soul mate, lover, and friend to me
A joy that keeps on giving, just like
Her offspring are nurtured, supported and loved
Diamonds of permanence and strength remind all she is
Guided by faith, love, and hope in her God’s eternal power
A gift received in humility reminds all
She is long on goodness and short on greed or guile