The Hoboken Board of Education said goodbye to longtime teacher Gary Enrico last week at their monthly meeting.
Enrico, a born and raised Hobokenite, has worked for the school district since 1976 and served most recently as a music teacher at Wallace Elementary School.
He officially retires at the end of this school year. He has served as the president of the Hoboken Education Association, the local teachers union, for the past 15 years.
The school board also recognized 12 students as the May and June students of the month during the meeting, receiving certificates from their respective principals.
A ‘ferocious advocate’
During the meeting, Enrico said it had been an honor to work the last 43 years in the place where he was born and raised.
“When I walk the streets of Hoboken, there are so many memories on each block,” he recalled.
“It has been a great experience to walk around and see former students, some of whom are here tonight,” he said. “It really is a blessing. I am blessed more than anyone should be.”
Enrico, who used to be the band director, reflected on bringing the band through Church Square Park and remembering his father pushing him on the swings as a kid or his mom waiting for him on the corner of Fifth Street and Willow Avenue as he left Our Lady of Grace.
Of his time as part of the district, Enrico explained that there had been 12 superintendents since he was hired, and people in his position as teacher’s union president were often threatened with losing their jobs or being transferred.
“I used to laugh at that stuff,” he said. “We would start negotiating and doing things the way we should and I think it worked out… I always quote Don Corleone from The Godfather. ‘This isn’t personal. This is business’ and that’s how I felt [when dealing with the board].”
Of the board, he said he felt the school board trustees and school administrators were there for the right reasons and want what’s best for the kids of Hoboken.
Of Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson, Enrico, said he had spent his life around strong women so “when you got hired I was kind of used to it, so I think it happened right here. I said to you I want you to know I checked you out, and you said you checked me out too, and I knew from that moment on we would have a great relationship.”
“It has been a pleasure working with you,” Enrico said to the board and superintendent. “I am sure we will meet again. “
He said he wasn’t sure why it was time to retire, but “I think I am done… I always promised I would get out early…I am a little nervous, to tell you the truth.”
What comes next? He said he was most excited about welcoming a new granddaughter in the next few weeks and spending time with her.
Board Vice President Thomas Kluepfel, who has served on the Board of Education the longest of its current members, declared “There has been no more a ferocious advocate for children and educators and partner … of these kids” than Enrico, and that it has been a pleasure working with him.
Students of the month
The school board also recognized 12 students of the month. Typically the board of education only does six students from each school representing the previous month, but since schools end this week, they honored students as both the May and June Students of the Month.
Brandt Elementary School Principal Charles Bartlett recognized Kindergarten student Camryn Hill as the May Student of the Month, and third grade student Sebastian Orrego as the June Student of the Month. Calabro Elementary School Principal Jack Baker recognized second grade student Julia Yaroshevskiy as the May Student of the Month, and third grade student Julia Sciarra as the June Student of the Month.
At Connors Elementary School, Principal Dr. Tamika Pollins recognized first grader Jaleah Rice as the May Student of the Month, and first grader Logan Morrissey as the June Student of the Month.
At Wallace Elementary School, Principal Martin Shannon recognized second grader Storm Baez as the May Student of the Month and first grader Brant Angley as the June Student of the Month.
Hoboken Middle School Principal Harold Abraham recognized seventh grader Naomi Cooke and eighth grader Amani Aviles as the May Student of the Month, and June Student of the Month respectively.
Hoboken High School Principal Robin Piccapietra recognized senior Denise Peguero as the May Student of the Month, and senior Eohnna Gilyard as the June Student of the Month.