Archbishop Molloy High School Teacher Celebrated Upon Retirement After 38 ‘Wonderful’ Years

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Palmina Dionisi has been spending her days in this classroom at Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood for nearly four decades. But her teaching career has come to an end.

“Yes, 38 years,” said Dionisi. “38 wonderful, fulfilling, fantastic, challenging years. I loved every minute of it. I gave 100% of myself to my kids every single day.”

Her last day at Molloy was a celebration, her devotion getting some much-deserved recognition by students and her fellow faculty. Palmina’s final walkout was a rush of emotion.

“The last day, I think it all came together for them,” said Dionisi. “They saw me get emotional, and they got emotional. And I told them, ‘I gave you the best of myself, and those of you who gave me the best of yourselves, I thank you very much.'”

But there was no rushing in packing up her classroom. Palmina took her time, sifting through the memories.

Her Italian classes became a blend of language and culture. Though Palmina was born here, her parents were new immigrants, and her first language was Italian. So starting school was a bit of a struggle.

“We lived on a block, and on the corner there used to be a pharmacy,” said Dionisi. “And the pharmacist there was educated and spoke both Italian and English. So we would go there in the evening and have him correct my homework.”

But she learned to lean on her faith and pass it on to her students.

“I started each and every class with the Our Father and the Hail Mary in Italian,” said Dionisi. “I’ve tried to encourage my students to follow their faith. I always look to my favorite saint, Padre Pio, to guide me through dark moments. And until now, he’s never disappointed me.”

In retirement, Palmina’s excited to make pasta from scratch with her family and spend more time with her new granddaughter. But she has no regrets when it comes to the time she spent away from home and in the classroom.

“One Italian word to describe my career: ‘professionale,’ professional,” said Dionisi. “I tried to be professional at all times, with my students, with my colleagues, with the administration. I tried to give the best of myself to my career every day.”

She was the teacher, but as for what she learned:

“That students crave desire, discipline, organization, dedication,” Dionisi said. “Did I say organization? Yes, organization. They want a challenge.”