The standing ovations kept coming. Ransom Everglades faculty and staff gathered in person at the Lewis Family Auditorium on June 3 to honor colleagues with milestone anniversaries and those departing the school – including the newest members of RE’s faculty emeriti: math teacher Ginny Onorati, who is leaving Ransom Everglades after 47 years, and English teacher Tom Dughi, who is departing after 25.
Head of School Penny Townsend directed the recognition of more than two dozen faculty and staff, calling all to the auditorium stage for applause and special gifts. The honorees included Head of the Middle School Rachel Rodriguez, who is departing after 16 years, and science teacher Don Kappelman, who reached his 35th anniversary.
Faculty member Joe Mauro shared reflections on his longtime colleague and friend Onorati, stepping behind a microphone and telling her: “Ginny, in my mind, you join Dan Bowden and Mike Stokes on the Mount Rushmore of Ransom Everglades teachers.”
Before departing the stage, Onorati – who was previously honored by middle school students and teachers – grabbed the microphone and looked out at her peers with a smile: “I am going to issue a challenge: Somebody has got to do 48 [years]. Who will it be?”
Jen Nero, Humanities Department Chair, lauded Tom Dughi for his meticulous attention to student essays and writing, student and faculty mentoring and gentle demeanor. “He’s moving on at the top of his game,” Nero said. “He is the gold standard.”
Amy Sayfie Zichella ’93, Director of Admission, spoke reverently about Rodriguez, who was not able to attend the event, noting that she knew the name of every single student in the middle school: “Rachel, we thank you for 16 years of service to Ransom Everglades School as a teacher, advisor, cheerleader, advocate, ambassador, leader, colleague and friend. We will miss you.”
Jimmy Oxsalida, the new Middle School Dean of Students and Director of Summer Programs, offered praise to his predecessor Pete DiPace, who is leaving after 10 years at Ransom Everglades – and one long year of contact tracing. “Pete has done so much work behind the scenes, especially in the last year,” Oxsalida said. “You will be sorely missed.”
Other departing members of the community were lauded: Fabiola Weinberg, yearbook advisor and faculty member; Marc Buller, dockmaster; Rick and Lyn Bernasco, Chief Financial Officer and Administrative Assistant to College Counseling, respectively; faculty members Samantha Morse, Raheem Jackson and Brittney Ellzey; and staff members Omar Vega and Orlando Mendez.
Many faculty and staff, including Kappelman, were honored for significant anniversaries. See the full list below. He might have summed up the sentiment in the auditorium best.
“So many of you have made so many great moments,” Kappelman said. “I appreciate you all so much.”
Thirty-five Years of Service
Donald Kappelman II
Twenty-five Years of Service
Miguel "Mike" Martinez
Twenty Years of Service
Jose "Freddy" Estrada
Ten Years of Service
Fifteen Years of Service
Ely "Jay" Salon