Editor's note: This story is part of an ongoing series on the careers of retired Long Island teachers and where they are now. If you are a retired Long Island teacher and would like to share your story, click on the link below.
Ann Parry is a Bellmore-Merrick school district lifer. A graduate of Sanford H. Calhoun High School, she went on to teach her entire 34-year career in the Bellmore-Merrick school district, starting in 1973. She worked at each of the district’s main high schools — Calhoun, Wellington C. Mepham and John F. Kennedy Bellmore — eventually settling at Grand Avenue Middle School as an English teacher.
In the 1985-86 academic year, Parry taught at Brookside Junior High School in North Merrick. Her first and only year there was the school’s final year of operation before it closed due to decreased enrollment. Newsday chronicled Brookside’s closing in a story about Parry and a student of hers, Paul Moscatiello. Students and teachers were dispersed throughout the district the following year, but Parry said the school’s impending closure didn’t get her spirits down.
“Of course, we really wanted our school to [stay] open, but we didn’t let it cast an oppressive cloud of gloom over the rest of the school year,” she said.
Parry and Moscatiello were assigned to different schools, so they wouldn’t share the same building again. But in their one year together, they developed a bond. Moscatiello, whom Parry described at the time as not being one of those students who “give off an aura of being hard workers,” was inspired to go above and beyond on one project shortly after the death of his mother.
“Paul produced ‘The Spies of Paradise,’ a work-in-progress which began as a class assignment and developed into a sort of obsession for this 12-year-old boy,” Paul Vitello wrote in his 1986 story, “At 12, creative fire ignites.”
Moscatiello’s story was about the adventure of intruders in “Paradise,” the nickname he and his friend gave to a nearby marsh they frequented. He took the original assignment and developed it into a four-chapter book complete with photos, diagrams and charts.
“He put a lot of thought and imagination into weaving his tale,” Parry said. “I’m smiling now as I remember how enthusiastically he’d share updates and plans for the adventure.”
The teacher and student eventually went their separate ways, but Parry said Moscatiello kept his promise and followed up with her after the school year.
Since retiring in 2006, Parry said she has been “quite busy and happy.” She has kept a connection to Long Island schools through her work as a photographer, covering classes and sports teams for local media outlets, including Newsday, and mentoring young photographers at Freeport High School’s Arts Expo. She also has a blog of her locally taken photography called “From Long Island,” which was named the best blog created and maintained by an individual at the 2016 Press Club of Long Island Media Awards.
In her spare time, Parry said she enjoys helping her children take care of her two grandkids. She said she’s counting on her grandson and granddaughter to maintain the family legacy in the Bellmore-Merrick school district.
“Not only did I have the great fortune to spend my teaching career at Merrick and Bellmore schools, but my two brothers and I graduated from Calhoun High School, my two daughters graduated from there and my two grandchildren live in Merrick, so we expect they’ll continue the tradition,” she said.