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Retiring Longobardi Thanks Pelham Community

PELHAM, N.Y. – The Pelham community bid farewell to longtime middle school principal Joseph Longobardi Thursday night and thanked him for his years of service with a plaque and scholarship in his name. The retiring principal said the gifts and outpouring of love that he received from current and former students, district officials and families meant everything to him.

“From the first day I started working here, I’ve been really happy,” said Longobardi in the courtyard of the middle school. “I love this school, I love it. I could have stayed here another 20 years probably, but I didn’t feel it was time to do that.”

Longobardi plans on taking it easy while enjoying time with his family and helping Robert Roelle in his transition from Prospect Hill Elementary School principal to his new position at Pelham Middle School.

Pelham residents, including new school board member Michael Recca, spoke highly of the man who came to Pelham as the district’s first special education teacher in 1973 and became the middle school's first principal in 1991.

“Joe Longobardi has meant a lot to Pelham. He has been the only middle school principal and in that role helped create the concept of middle school education in Pelham.” said Recca, who had Longobardi as a principal and has known him since 1999. “He is an administrator I consider a friend and is someone who will be dearly missed in Pelham.”

Pelham PTA Council president Amy Heese described Longobardi as a “very warm, personable and approachable administrator.”

“He truly cares about the kids and it shows,” said the mother of a high and middle schooler. “He will be missed.”

The first $1,000 “Joe Longobardi Scholarship” was awarded to Pelham Memorial senior Sabrina Candido, who plans on attending Florida’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the fall. Candido said she was “very honored” to have received the scholarship.

A plaque featuring his likeness and many jobs titles in the Pelham School District will be placed next week on the outside of the school right next to the front entrance because that is where he would greet students in the morning and at dismissal, said assistant principal Lynn Sabia calling it a “key spot.”

Longobardi, who grew up in Yonkers, said he did not know where Pelham was when he received his first job in the district. Thirty-nine years later, with people lining up to say their goodbyes, a grateful Longobardi said, “Thank God, I found my way over here – I’m very lucky.”

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