As the 2019-2020 school year comes to an end, LHS is saying goodbye to Maria Morrongiello, who has been a longtime asset to the language department. Morrongiello has been a teacher for a total of 38 years. She worked in Brooklyn and Queens for 16 years and has spent the past 22 years at LHS. She has made a huge impact on the school and will be dearly missed. Principal Joseph Rainis explained, “Mrs. Morrongiello offered students the opportunity to immerse themselves in Spanish language and culture. Her lessons were taught almost exclusively in the target language which enabled students to learn how to listen to the language rather than translating in their heads. She wove literature, film, music, and dance into her expertly delivered lessons.”
After this school year, Morrongiello plans to work on some projects at home until travel restrictions are lifted. Once they are lifted, she plans to explore new places. Although she is going to miss everyone in the building, she is excited to be able to explore. When asked to reflect on her past years at LHS, she stated, “One of the highlights throughout my career was when I was given the opportunity to teach the 5AP Class. I had taught all of the other levels, and the challenge has proven to be so rewarding.” Throughout her 5AP teaching experience, she has put together several class trips to see Broadway shows such as On Your Feet and In the Heights. She added, “Besides going on these amazing field trips, I enjoyed seeing my students perform in the musicals, the jazz concerts, and Cabaret Night. It was always great to see the talents of my students outside of the classroom.” She has always been very supportive of the students and has sought to bring joy to everyone. She is going to miss teaching all her students about Spanish culture. Reflecting on this, she stated, “I will miss sharing my knowledge and passion for the Spanish language with my students and the joy of seeing them become more fluent in Spanish over the two years in my class.” Her teaching skills have been fantastic throughout the years, and those skills have allowed her students to gain vast knowledge about Spanish culture.
Morrongiello’s extraordinary personality and kindness will be dearly missed by everyone in the upcoming years. Rainis commented, “It will be difficult to replace her expertise and impossible to replace her caring and concern for the students of LHS.” Spanish Teacher Danielle Leighley added, “The things I am going to miss most are laughing with her and Mrs. Barth, her advice, her support, and most of all seeing her every day!” Carla Gentile, an English teacher, also stated, “Every single time I have been involved in planning something or working on a project with Mrs. Morrongiello, I am reminded of why I enjoy her so: She is smart, conscientious, dependable, honest, and fair. Mrs. Morrongiello exhibits all the qualities I respect most in people.” Morrongiello’s amazing qualities have truly brought something to LHS that will always be remembered.
Morrongiello never failed to answer a question the students had, and she always made sure to help each and every one of her students. Jeny Sanchez, another teacher in the Spanish department, has been working with Morrongiello for 18 years. She loved their talks, her knowledge, and the school field trips they went on together. Relating to Morrongiello’s retirement, she mentioned, “I am going to miss the help she offered whenever I had a question.” Not only will she miss her help, but the rest of the faculty and all of her students will miss it, too.
Morrongiello has made learning Spanish so much fun through her creative ways. She always has something new to share, whether it is about the culture, a new song or dance, or even just a new tense to study. Leonard Bruno, Italian teacher and foreign language department chairperson, is one of her colleagues and has been working with Morrongiello throughout her entire time at LHS. He mentioned that she is a genuine, hard-working colleague. He added that from his 22 years working with her, she can be summed up as someone with the attributes of “professionalism, collegiality, and a wonderful work ethic who always tries to advance the language skills in her students.” He is truly going to miss working with “someone who gave 100% and always greeted [him] with a smile.” Her passion for the Spanish culture and language is unmatched, and she has shared so much knowledge with her students over the years, and these students are very grateful for that. Kelle Barth shared how she loved listening to Morrongiello teach from Leighley’s room on her off period: “The song and dances she taught the students had everyone up and out of their seats.” She always thought of fun lesson plans. From having students sing holiday songs in Spanish to putting up videos of different areas of Spain, to teaching the kids a Spanish dance, to just a normal day in the classroom, she never failed to make someone smile. Leaving the classroom, the students always had something good to say about her lesson and how much fun it was.
Walking through the hallways and passing room 201 will definitely not be the same without Morrongiello’s positive energy. Her room is always filled with Spanish decorations and geography, which makes learning there even more exciting. Barth, who was a colleague of Morrongiello for 17 years, reflected, “I will miss my roommate dearly. We have shared a room for years now, and I will miss her organizational skills, her Post-It notes everywhere, and seeing her script on the chalkboard.” Being in their room feels like being in Spain with all the culture that is presented throughout it.
Although Morrongiello will not miss her mornings starting at 5:15 AM every day, she is going to miss everyone in the LHS family. She stated, “I will miss my students tremendously. Of course, I will miss my colleagues as well. LHS will always be my extended family.” She has formed such close bonds with many of the staff members and students. Not only will she miss everyone, but everyone will miss her immensely in return. For his final words for Morrongiello, Rainis shared, “I wish Mrs. Morrongiello an active and full agenda each day, filled with family, friends and travel. Despedida, que te vaya bien!” LHS will truly not be the same without Morrongiello, and she will be missed by everyone that is a part of the LHS family.