By Jasmine Kingston ’15
From the installation of the North and South wings, to the induction of a new principal just last year, Ms. Janice Pumelia has been with us through it all. Believing her time has come, she has decided to retire at the end of this school year.
“It’s been an honor working here,” she said.
Ms. Pumelia majored in English at Brooklyn College where she received her Bachelor’s Degree. She’d begun studying Physical Education but realized it wasn’t for her due to all the science and sports classes she was required to take. She’s always loved English. She began teaching in 1973.
Ms. Sharon Teger, an English teacher, has been teaching here since 1989 and describes Ms. Pumelia as generous and reallywilling to offer help.
She said, “I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.”
Ms. Pumelia currently holds the position of the Assistant Principal Supervision of English. Shehas no idea who will be assuming this position once she’s gone (which is for the principal to decide). She does know, however, what she plans to do once she’s gone.She has been teaching new teachers in Brooklyn College for ten years now and will continue in doing so. Also, she would like to become more involved in her late father’s WWII veteran group.Additionally, she would like to devote more time to herself and husband.
Ms. Teger is happy Ms. Pumelia is starting a new chapter in her life, but is also sad she’s losing a colleague.
Some of Ms. Pumelia’smost memorable events here include poetry month, fundraisers for the drama club, as well asthe drama club productions. The fundraisers consisted of barbeques that she enjoyed, and she describedworking with Mr. Kevin Knutsen on the spring productions as“most tiring, most hours, but most satisfying.”Her best memories also include activities students have participated in; from creative writing to winning contests to working closely with Ms. Catherine Kaczmarek and Ms. Sharon Lustbader.
Ms. Wendy Guida said, “I have been inspired by the way she has taken students under her wing and nurtured them to be their best selves.”
A defining moment for her was the opening of the annex. For nine years, money for the bridge was “sat on”. Shortly after he arrived, Mr. David Cohen announced that it would finally be built. One day, there was a loud crash and those who didn’t believe Mr. Cohen, like Ms. Pumelia, realized that it was true. What once used to be a handball court was now brought down.It took one year to be completed, and there was an exciting party on the bridge to finalize the opening.
As for her worst times here, Ms. Pumelia says she tries to come to work every day with a smile and leave her personal life at the door. There has been so much extra work this year that “the most important and wonderful things that I do with students are sidelined.”
Ms. Pumelia is sure to leave a huge and generous legacy for our school. She believes Midwood is all about tradition and has helped solidify the truth to that statement. She came up with the idea of recycling the old library desk and is in charge of keeping the pictures of principals in the courtroom up-to-date.Most of all, she thinks of the students as her legacy. She didn’t receive good guidance in high school and didn’t want that to happen to anyone else.
“I will miss her terribly, but I am so excited to know that she will have the precious gift of time to explore all her passions,” said Ms. Guida.
After just one school year with Ms. Pumelia, Ms. Lorrie Director, a guidance counselor, said Ms. Pumelia was helpful to the College Office. She also added that Ms. Pumelia “adds a lot of finesse to Midwood.”
After Ms. Pumelia retires, it won’t be the last we see of her.She will most likely be involved in the Midwood Alumni Association. She has already begun planning this school’s 75th anniversary with Ms. Wendy Guida. For the celebration, every year will be recognized and brought back into this one event. All will be invited.