“I’m actually a little teary-eyed,” Sandi Kruel said. “It’s like the end of an era for me.”
The Sag Harbor Board of Education member was talking about the retirement of elementary school monitor and greeter Catherine Carlozzi.
“I want to say thank you for being such a positive role model,” Ms. Kruel said. “Every morning you’ve greeted those kids with the biggest smile and in costumes — your shoes are going to be really hard to fill. I wish you the best in your next venture and enjoy it, because you deserve it.”
Ms. Carlozzi has been part of the district for decades, with children who graduated from Sag Harbor.
“My hope is that one day, my adult children will realize how lucky they had it with the guidance, the care, the understanding and the patience that each one of the district employees have shown them,” she said. “I would like to say thank you to the board for always looking to put the children first, for being their voice. Never stop.”
For years, she was a very active member of the Parent Teacher Association, creating bingo and movie nights. For nearly 15 years, she pitched and refereed kickball games during recess and instituted whiffle ball Wednesday. Noticing some students were struggling with the narrow bat, she purchased a flat one to ensure every student’s success. Each year, she paints the school sidewalks with tic-tac-toe boards, hop-scotch and counting games. As a crossing guard, she’d been spotted donning whale, turkey, snowman and leprechaun costumes to celebrate the holidays and add a little magic to the morning for the children walking into Sag Harbor Elementary School.
“No one has been willing to wear more ridiculous costumes in the name of helping children feel happy and safe and excited and accepted,” board member Chris Tice said. “You have been so much of the DNA and heart of the school.”
But Ms. Carlozzi credits elementary school Principal Matt Malone, who, although now her boss, was also the fourth-grade teacher of one of her three children, with being just as high-spirited.
“Your guidance, your positivity — always looking on the bright side — has made working at the elementary school a place I will always have enjoyed,” she said.
One day in 2016, when Mrs. Carlozzi went to her desk, she found an anonymous note that read: “If friends were flowers, I’d pick you.”
“I feel like I can make a difference in their lives by being positive,” she said then. “If you have a problem, a worry or a concern, it’s not just your own personal concern — it’s everyone’s — everyone looks out for everyone else.”
While Mr. Malone said he is happy for Ms. Carlozzi’s move toward retirement, he said he is heartbroken for the district.
“People may think they have seen everything you’ve done, and all the time you’ve given in the daylight so-to-speak, but I know all the things you’ve also done behind the scenes,” he said. “When I’ve needed to call on someone, Cathy is usually at the top of the list. On behalf of everybody, thank you for everything you’ve done for the kids in Sag Harbor and everyone you’ve worked with.”
Ms. Carlozzi’s retirement is effective October 2. She said it will be hard leaving what she calls “my family away from my family.”
“I have had the honor of meeting and working with many district employees and the privilege of meeting many families and their children,” Ms. Carlozzi said. “The school will always have a special piece of my heart.”
“The void you’re going to leave is something I know is going to be nearly impossible to fill,” Mr. Malone responded. “Sag Harbor and our school district is definitely a family away from home, and you’ve served as a big part of the glue that’s kept the family together all these years.”
After conveying a heartwarming “thank you,” Ms. Carlozzi said: “If I had to do it all over again, without a doubt, I would.”