The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

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Fair winds and following seas to retiring Pirates


Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Ms. Rose Leonard

     Q: Why did you become a teacher?

     A: I love literature. I love the power of the written word. But also, I had two bad teachers: my kindergarten teacher was mean, my first grade teacher was inadequate, and I always said I could do a better job. I made my choice partly out of spite.

     Being around kids teaches you so much. I think so many people aren’t fortunate enough to learn at their jobs. Somebody said to me, “Doesn’t your job ever become boring?” I said, “How could it be boring when I get 125 new kids every year to teach and learn from, and when they’ll make me laugh 75 new ways?”

Q: Are there any students or faculty you’ve had a special relationship with at South?

     A: I have to say my favorite pirate is my daughter. But, I try to get to know every student in my class well before they leave. Then there’s my hallway kids and my lunch duty kids, just kids that I always say hi to during lunch or on hallway duty. You know how you tend to see the same people around everyday? I’ve always wanted to make kids feel valued. You should feel you matter. Just saying hello to a kid in the hallway is worth a lot. There’s students I never taught who I stay in contact with because they were my hallway kids or my lunch duty kids.

     I remember when I first started here there were older teachers who raised me as a person and a teacher. They taught me so much. I’m just always grateful to them and we’re always in touch on Facebook.


Ms. MaryAnn Giambagno

     Q: How did you get into the nursing field?

     A: Nursing is my second career. When I was in high school my guidance counselor told me I wasn’t smart enough to be a nurse, since I was a B student. I believed her. She said to find a different medical job, so I decided to become a lab technician. I went to school for 2 years and got my associates degree in medical lab technology, and spent two more years on a degree in allied health. When I graduated, I worked in a hospital lab at first, then I moved to a bigger lab. I was a lab tech for two years and I loved the medical part of it, for example, learning about different organisms and finding what antibiotics worked for what. But, it was missing the patient contact, and I wanted that. So. I joined a nursing program at Fairleigh Dickinson in Rutherford. Since I already had my bachelor’s in science, I only had to do nursing courses, which took 18 months. I graduated with honors, I was in the nursing honors society. It just goes to show that when a negative person tells you that you can’t achieve your dreams, you should pursue them anyway.     


Ms. Kathy Slothower

     Q:  What will you miss about South? 

     A: The people. The administration, the teachers, the other secretaries, and the kids.  I am  very comfortable with teenagers. I think they’re great. I came here after working at Grover. I recognize a lot of the kids and it’s very exciting to see them mature and turn into adults. 

     I loved being a Pirate. I’m sad that it’s only been two years, but it’s just the right time in my life to retire. I’m very excited about retiring. I’ll always have fond memories of South.


Mr. Robert Peterson

     Q: What is your favorite experience from your time in the district?
    A: Some of the students that I had taught who were seniors in high school are now about 53 years old. I find it comical when students come in and tell me that I had either their mother or their father in school. That’s always fun.

     Q: Why did you choose to become a school orchestra director?

     A: I have been playing double bass in orchestras for 51 years. I always enjoyed the camaraderie between the conductor and the musicians. I decided I really liked reading and analyzing scores, and then teaching ensembles to play what I see and what they see in scores.

     Q: What would you like to say to everyone at South?

     A: I want to thank everyone for their 35 years of support, and love and dedication to the arts. And I hope it continues.


Mr. William Totaro 

      Q: Why did you choose to become a teacher?

     Well, I had spent a lot of years in corporate America and I took early retirement, and thought it was time to give back. I was part of the Marketing department in corporate, so I thought I could give a real life perspective to the students from a marketing perspective.

     Q: What will you miss about working at South and North?

     Oh, well I miss both. I’ll miss the students first of all, and then I’ll miss the camaraderie of the other teachers, since we all work together in a very close environment. I will miss the exchanges, the sharing of lunches, the parties, the gatherings. 

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