2018 Educator of the Year: Rosemary McGoey

For almost 50 years, Rosemary McGoey of Southold reported to work every day, enjoying her job and making children smile. That is, until her place of work was no longer there.

Ms. McGoey taught elementary students at Our Lady of Mercy Regional School in Cutchogue. Even after she retired, she chose to come back and help with the younger children because she missed them so much. She would have celebrated her 50th anniversary there this September, but the school closed in June, just before she could reach the milestone.

For almost a half-century of dedication to the children of Our Lady of Mercy, Ms. McGoey has been chosen as The Suffolk Times’ 2018 Educator of the Year.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre announced in March that it would consolidate Our Lady of Mercy and St. Isidore in Riverhead. Children still attend elementary school at the St. Isidore building, but it is now known as John Paul II Regional School. The diocese also closed Bishop McGann-Mercy High School, which held its final commencement ceremony June 6.

“I feel very badly about the school closing,” Ms. McGoey said in an interview in June. “I think anyone who has been a part of this school or part of this environment will probably tell you exactly the same thing. It’s more like a family.”

Ms. McGoey became a teacher after working with children throughout high school at her home parish in New Rochelle. She decided to teach at a Catholic school because passing on her faith, as well as her academic background, was important to her. She received 16 years of Catholic education herself, attending Good Counsel College, now Pace University, in White Plains.

At Mercy, she was primarily a fifth-grade teacher, but has also taught sixth through eighth grades, which the school stopped offering about 15 years ago. She retired in 2012 in order to give a younger teacher a shot at the same experiences she’d had, but found it difficult to stay in retirement.

The following fall, she returned to work in Academic Intervention Services. This allowed her the chance to spend time with students every day but not have her own classroom.

“When I was first hired, one of the first people I did meet was Ms. McGoey,” said Alexandra Conlan, the school’s final principal, in a June interview. “And the principal who was here at the time, the interim principal, said, ‘Anything you need to know about the school, please refer to Ms. McGoey. Because she will tell you anything and everything about everybody because she has just been the heart and soul of the school for so long.’ ”

Ms. Conlan became principal in 2014. She told The Suffolk Times in June that enrollment at the elementary level had been declining over the last decade: there was just one class per grade, each with about 10 students.

Ms. McGoey also became involved in the Before Care program, which supervises children whose parents go to work early or come home later.

When asked what advice she would give aspiring or new teachers, she said: “Be in it because you want to help children, you want to make a difference and you want them to have a successful life.”

Ms. McGoey resumed her retirement after Our Lady of Mercy closed, but she said, of course, she would always lend a helping hand at the new school if they needed her.

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Photo caption: Rosemary McGoey would have celebrated her 50th anniversary at Our Lady of Mercy elementary school had the school not closed in 2018. (Rachel Siford photo)

Previous Winners

2017: Sarah Benjamin
2016: Emily Gundersen
2015: John Roslak
2014: Phillip ‘Skip’ Munisteri
2013: Al Edwards
2012: Daniel Goldfarb
2011: Major William Grigonis
2010: Jean Dempsey
2009: Robert Feger
2008: Charles Kozora
2007: Kathy Williams
2006: Dr. Stuart Rachlin
2005: Mattituck Fund for Students
2004: Ron McEvoy
2003: Chris Gallagher
2002: Brigitte Gibbons
2001: Barbara Ackerman
2000: Ruth Yoskovich
1999: Tom Brennan
1998: Peggy Dickerson
1997: Elizabeth Goldsmith
1996: Lee Ellwood
1995: Linda Gates
1994: Poppy Johnson
1993: Peggy Murphy
1992: Patricia Wall
1991: Charles Nephew
1990: Dennis Claire
1989: Bruno Brauner
1988: Winifred Billard
1987: Jim Christy