The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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A Poly Family: Teachers Who Have Been At Poly for 20+ Years

The+Moroneys
VIA POLY PREP ARCHIVES
The Moroney’s

It’s nearly Poly Prep’s 170th anniversary and the ever-changing school is now led by John Rankin, Poly’s first interim head of school. With Poly’s history spanning well over a century, the school has had many different eras of heads of school, going back to 1854. The longest serving of Poly’s current faculty can call back to as far as the late William M. Williams’ time as head of school from 1970 to 2000. With the help of various Polyglots from the late 1990s, a few of these faculty members gave some light on what Poly Prep was like then. 

Elijah Sivin, history teacher and director of service learning, was hired in 1996. He recalls interviewing with the head of the history department at the time, Neale McGoldrick, and also speaking with Williams, “I think he saw himself as a minister: he wanted to send messages of good behavior out to the community.” 

This trait is certainly seen in an excerpt of Williams’ message to the senior class of 1999 in the Polyglot: “You have lived and learned in a caring community of classmates and teachers who have enriched your lives by the diversity of their lives. You know right from wrong and have a growing awareness of beauty. Your future in the 21st century will depend upon your individual aspiration and the character to achieve it. Go for it with God’s speed!”

Harold Bernieri, Poly alum and history teacher, was hired by Williams right out of college. He said some of the most notable people he remembers were: “Mr. Vey — tough demanding art/woodshop teacher; Mr. Nicolosi — extraordinary English teacher who made you see deeply into literature; Mr. Morrison — who challenged you to think outside the box: Mr. Leary — extraordinary Physics teacher — even regular physics students were prepared to take the AP exam…” Bernieri also noted that, “It was also smaller and more intimate — you really got to know your classmates and develop close relationships that last to this day.”

Sabina Laricchia, math teacher, was hired by Williams as well in the fall of 1991. She remembered, “There was a ‘Country Day School Philosophy’ so teachers were expected to help with sports or an activity, so I helped out in volleyball, swimming and then track… We all knew each other and were part of the ‘Poly Family.’ Mr. Williams was always around and knew everything that was going on.” Laricchia also said, “He wanted Poly to be excellent in academics, arts and athletics.”

Bart Moroney, science teacher, was also hired by Williams in 1981 to teach middle school science and coach winter and spring track. The biggest difference for him was, “Poly was much smaller, with the senior class [only] about 90 and I taught all of the seventh grade (called Form I), which were life science (5 classes).” Another interesting fact was that, “The school had only recently gone co-ed so there were not a lot of girls in the school. I had to use seventh graders to have enough people on the girls track team.” As for the sports leagues, “Collegiate, Dalton, and Fieldston hadn’t yet joined the league and we used to run against schools like McBurney, The Anglo American School, NYMA (New York Military Academy), UNIS (United Nations Independent School),… [and] all the tracks were cinder or dirt tracks.” Moroney ended by saying, “Poly was such a great place that I am still here 42 years later… It has been great being part of the ‘Poly Family’ and teaching and coaching the children of former students [today].”

Erika Freeman, chair of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, was hired by Williams in the spring of 1995. She remembered how, at the time, Chair of the Science Department Ron Schweizer, Dean of Faculty Joan Wright, and Head of Upper School Keith Pattison all observed the demo lessons she taught and were “influential people who were tremendous resources for me as a novice teacher.” One of the things Freeman recalls was, “There was a strict dress code (but more so for boys who had to wear a button-down shirt with a tie and blazer on chapel days, which were twice a week… girls simply had to wear a collared shirt and some length skirt or pants).” 

A story some might not know today is that Laricchia and Moroney met at Poly. When recalling the moment, Laricchia said, “I will never forget the day Mr. Williams announced to the entire student body at one of his chapels that Mr. Moroney and I got engaged. The students gave us a standing ovation.” She closed, “Poly Prep will always be a special part of my life.”

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About the Contributor
TJ Iannelli, Managing Editor
TJ Iannelli is one of the Managing Editors for the Polygon. A member of the Polygon for three years now, TJ has been a staff writer and Opinions Editor in the past. His favorite articles to write vary, but mainly focus on major school changes or STEM. Outside of the Polygon, TJ is a two sport athlete and a member of Green Key. Some of his hobbies include surfing, snowboarding, and F1.

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