When teachers at St. Rose of Lima School returned to the building after winter recess, they asked Principal Jeannine Fuller why there was yellow caution tape plastered across the door of the teachers’ lounge.
Fuller told them minor maintenances were being taking care of, but in truth, the teachers were in for a surprise: the Home-School Association (HSA) was getting ready to unveil a newly renovated area for them to decompress and relax during lunch, as well as grade schoolwork or enjoy quiet conversation between classes.
Parish priest Fr. Edward J. Wilson Jr., along with schoolchildren and the Cardi brothers, Nick, Ron and Pete, who donated furniture to the cause, helped the HSA surprise the teachers last week during a brief ceremony, at which Fr. Wilson blessed the room.
Teachers said they think their new lounge is a blessing in itself. They were delighted, and shocked, to see the enhanced room for the first time.
“We couldn’t believe it,” said fifth grade teacher Leslie Palombo. “Everybody’s mouth was hanging open. It’s very inviting here.”
Noreen Mazzie, another fifth grade teacher, agreed.
“We were so excited,” she said. “It’s like the Taj Mahal.”
Jenn Liddle, who graduated from St. Rose in 2000 and now works there as a substitute teacher, said the room had been pretty much the same since she graduated, aside from the addition of a few folding tables and some chairs.
“It was your average lunchroom before,” Liddle said.
These days, the room has a fresh coat of paint, and is equipped with two circular wood tables, along with eight chairs and a leather couch, all donated by Cardi’s Furniture. The HSA also hung artwork and stenciled inspirational quotes on the walls. Quotes include, “Laugh as much as you breathe, love as long as you live,” and “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
Teachers Cindi Lacroix, Lorraine Muraco and Kim Pellerin described the new room as “comfortable” and “inviting.” Lori Healey, whose sister-in-law Amanda Silvia is the president of the HSA, said, “This is probably the best gift we’ve ever gotten.”
Silvia attended the unveiling, and said it was touching to see the teachers reacting to the scene.
“They were so emotional,” Silvia said. “Myself and a few of the HSA members were there, and it brought tears to our eyes that we were able to help. The room gives them a little retreat from their busy day.”
She feels it was the least they can do, considering the fact that the teachers are so dedicated to students.
“It was really nice to be able to give back,” said Silvia, who brought along her husband, Richard, as well as their son, Brendon, 6, a first grader at St. Rose, to do the renovations. Brendon and a small group of students assisted in painting. “We made it a family event and [encouraged] members to bring their children to help.”
In total, it took the crew about 16 hours to complete the work through the course of four days. Aside from painting, they cleaned the room from top to bottom.
But the first step Silvia took to begin the project was asking Fuller and Fr. Wilson for approval, which they gave. The parish also donated funds to cover the cost of paint and supplies.
“I was very pleased to support the Home-School Association’s efforts with this project,” Fr. Wilson said in a press release. “St. Rose of Lima School is a wonderful family that is mindful of the Gospel’s teachings to place other’s needs before our own. Together, parents and teachers demonstrate to our children through words and actions the love that Christ has for all of us.”
From there, Silvia contacted Cardi’s. The furniture company graciously gifted them two table sets and a couch.
“Our outreach in the community is very important and we are pleased to be able to assist St. Rose of Lima School in this worthwhile endeavor,” Ben Decastro, promotions manager for Cardi’s Furniture, said in the release.
In an interview, Fuller said about 25 teachers have access to the room, and that all of them have been talking non-stop about how happy they are to have a refurbished lounge. She also praised the HSA for being so thoughtful.
“The parents are so giving,” she said. “It was their thank you to the teachers because they feel the teachers do so much for the kids.”
St. Rose of Lima School is located at 200 Brentwood Avenue, and serves children in pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade. The school provides a Catholic atmosphere that encourages students to see Christ in the faces of others, and to promote social justice.