Ransom Everglades faculty, staff and administration celebrated four retiring colleagues – Penny Matthews, Maria del Carmen Naranjo, Mike Townsend and Guillermo Urbina – and honored more than two dozen others who achieved significant career milestones during an end-of-year virtual recognition on June 5. Middle school administrative assistant Patricia Aguilar and history and social sciences teacher Joe Mauro topped the longevity list with their 30th and 35th work anniversaries.
The retiring faculty members heard tributes from close friends in their departments, and received applause and whistles from their peers online, who temporarily unmuted their microphones to show their gratitude and appreciation. Head of School Penny Townsend announced that Matthews and Urbina, who retired after 32 and 28 years, respectively, depart RE as faculty emeriti.
World languages teacher Bobbie Bassuk described Urbina as "the unofficial department go-to grammar expert – and I am talking about his colleagues," and recalled his love for and devotion to his students and the school. "For me, Ransom has been far more than a job," Urbina said, "it's always been like a family for me."
Michelle Mondell, who has been at RE for 25 years, lauded Matthews: "Two words that I think describe Penny are 'fearless' and 'passionate.' Her whole heart is in anything she decides to take on." Said Matthews: "I'm always there for you, and I want you all to know that ... I think I'm just going to say 'See you all later,' because I will. I look forward to more good times together."
"Something special united us," world languages teacher Maria Martinez said of Naranjo. "I was always hoping at the final moment you would change your mind about retiring... I know I speak for the entire Ransom Everglades community when I say you will always have a home here, and you will always have a friend in me."
Mike Townsend, an English teacher for 44 years who leaves RE, was also recognized for his meaningful contributions to the English department during his five years at RE; and other departing faculty members – Corey Charpentier, Thomas Willis '04, Amy Lanning and Danielle Ellis – were also lauded.
Special Anniversaries for Faculty and Staff 35 Years Joe Mauro
30 Years Patricia Aguilar
25 Years Astrid Dalins, Alina Mendoza, Bobbie Bassuk, Michelle Mondell
20 Years Laura Miller, Sussy Norcini, Cathi Leibinger, Diana Morales, Tito Soutuyo
15 Years Mike Becker, Kate Bloomfield, Erick Ceballos, Greg Noblet, Monique Regis, Rachel Rodriguez
10 Years Jan Bekkevold, Melissa Bonafonte, Kristin Castle, Gila Dooreck-Aloni, Julie Duncan, Fabiola Weinberg, Cecilia Gonzalez, Alex Kutsenok, Jody Salzinger
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.