He was also known for his sense of humor. “He was the quickest wit you’d ever want to meet,” said Greenberg. “He always knew how to break the tension in a situation. He was so funny.”
Gregory Bottari, Barnum Woods’ principal, credited Novarro with helping him acclimate to the school when he arrived in 1997, as assistant principal. “He was not only a colleague,” Bottari said. “I would consider him a friend and an incredible individual.”
The faculty held a playground ceremony behind the school recently, Bottari recalled. Though Novarro wasn’t feeling well, he didn’t want to miss it, and he watched from his classroom window while waving to the crowd.
“He was never too busy, never not interested,” said Greenberg. “He was always involved in everything. He was the heart of this place. There’s no other way to say it.”
Barnum Woods offered no information on the cause of Novarro’s death. His wake was held on Nov. 26 and 27 at the Massapequa Funeral Home in Massapequa Park. His funeral took place on Nov. 28 at St. William the Abbot Roman Catholic Church in Seaford, and he was interred at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.
Parents and former students react
“I got to know a lot of teachers throughout the years, and he ranks among one of the finest in the entire school district,” said Janet Barsky, whose son had Novarro as a teacher nearly 13 years ago.
Barsky, a former PTA president at Barnum Woods, said that Novarro was skilled at finding creative ways to make topics interesting for children. She recalled that during a recent visit, he congratulated her son for his recent admission to medical school. “He took an absolute interest and a great pride in the accomplishments of his students,” she said.
Carrie Petrocca-Aronson said that Navarro was one of her daughter Ashley’s favorite teachers. “She would come home telling me what an inspiration he was, and that because of him she was learning so much,” Petrocca-Aronson said. “He cared about every one of his students, and I noticed he took it to heart to make sure they stayed on the right learning path.
“Mr. Novarro was always mentioned at our dinner table each night,” she continued. “He always did something that day to make my daughter laugh, and she would share with us.”