All this week, The Bear Press will be unveiling exclusive interviews with all of this year’s retiring teachers. In a way, we consider these teachers The Staff Class of 2015! We’ll have the details about what they’ll miss, what they’ll remember, and what they’ll be doing after retirement. Our first interview is with Pupil Personnel Worker Bob DeAngelis.
By Justin Richie and Nazily Zaza
The end of the year brings with it happiness as each grade moves up, sadness as the seniors leave, and anxiety over what the next year will hold for students. However, it also brings staff retirements. Some of Hammond’s staff members are looking forward to the next phase of their life outside of education. One of these staff members is Pupil Personnel Worker (PPW) Bob DeAngelis. Mr. DeAngelis has been a Hammond staff member for four years. He has been working in the Howard County Public School System for 13 years, split between Wilde Lake High School and Hammond. Mr. DeAngelis has had a very long and successful career, only some of which has been in education. He has spent his life’s career in social work, which includes his work as a PPW for Hammond.
PPWs are those involved in helping schools deal with students that are having some difficulties thriving in the school environment. “I’ve done that for 13 years. Prior to that, I worked in the Department of Corrections,” Mr. DeAngelis said. Mr. DeAngelis has worked in both Maryland and New York, spending some time at the University of Maryland Medical Center as a behavioral interventionist. There, he helped people avoid behavior that would lead to coronary disease, such as bad dieting, smoking, and drinking habits.
His first job was at Odyssey House – a therapeutic community in New York – and through that experience he grew to really enjoy the helping people. Ultimately, this experience is what steered him toward education. Prior to him getting his degree, though, he was drafted into the military during the Vietnam War and spent three years in the Air Force. After being honorably discharged, he went to New York State University, came to Maryland, got his Masters Degree, and ended up staying here for the rest of his life doing what he loved: helping others.
During his first year of work in the school system, he worked as a long term substitute teacher, but then he was hired full-time and went to work at Wilde Lake for seven years, eventually moving to Hammond for four.
As a staff member, Mr. DeAngelis worked to incorporate his unique social working style into the rules and regulations of the school system, but he encountered some obstacles around the way. “I can’t do everything the way my instinct tells me to do things in terms of helping students stay on track. I have to work within the guidelines of the law and the Howard County School System,” he explained. A bigger challenge for him personally was recovering from the challenges he had to get through during his youth. “The difficulties that I endured led me to become negative in life, and it took me a while to realize that giving into negativity doesn’t serve anybody, including yourself. It’s a lesson I try to share with all the students I work with.”
Over the years, Mr. DeAngelis has developed a very close relationship with Mr. Seibel, having known him since his beginnings at HCPSS. Mr. DeAngelis said that his most memorable moment was when he got the news that Mr. Seibel was coming to Hammond. “I started to do a little dance in the hallway, and a few students saw me,” leading to both embarrassment and excitement for Mr. DeAngelis.
Mr. DeAngelis has a real love for Hammond High School, and he says that there will be many things he will miss. Explaining his memories of Hammond, Mr. DeAngelis said that “what I’m going to miss the most is being a part of a strong team. I really think the staff and students that I worked with here are really outstanding.”
Retirement certainly does not mean inactivity for Mr. DeAngelis. He plans to go on a trip with his wife and kids to Italy, and he says that he might stay there for a while. Mr. DeAngelis also revealed that he is a motorcyclist enthusiast, and he will finally get a chance to jump on his Harley and take some extended road trips. He also wants to do some things work-wise so that he can stay involved in the community.
As for his parting words Hammond High School, Mr. DeAngelis had this to say: “For the staff: thank you for all your support that they have given me, and the caring attitude that they have always gave the students here. To the students: when you get to a point where things seem to be getting rough, and I think that point will come, stay strong. Do a good job protecting yourself, and you’ll get past it. You’ll move on to better things.”
If you have memories of a teacher who will be retiring next year, make sure to tag us on Twitter (@hhsbearpress) with the hashtag #HaHSTeachers! We’ll have interviews with more retirees, including Ms. Mutolo, Ms. Mooney, and Ms. Harryman, soon in our Staff Class of 2015 series!