Carol Lombardi spent the past 27 years of her life nurturing and teaching hundreds of Rockville Centre’s youth during their first experiences away from their parents. On the same day that she celebrated with her final graduating class, over 100 of her closest friends and family honored her with a retirement dinner at the Rockville Links.
A mainstay of St. Mark’s Nursery School, Lombardi has been known as a firm and loving teacher. Since starting in 1996, she saw the school move over to Temple B’Nai Sholom and weather the pandemic. Her impact was evident as one of her former students, Rockville Centre native Julia Rose drove from Maryland to see the woman who inspired her to become a teacher herself.
“She was one of my very first teachers and I was a very shy student,” Rose said. “She always made me feel welcome in the classroom and helped me form bonds and friendships with other students.”
Rose’s favorite moments with Lombardi were spent making tissue-paper vases, a few of which she still has at home.
Theresa Cantwell and Maria Petrone worked as assistants with Lombardi for years and recalled the recent retiree’s animated story times that engaged students and got them reading, too.
The woman who hired Lombardi, Shirley Perry, also attended the dinner and reminisced about her long-time colleague.
“Carol came as an already seasoned professional, so she was really on top of her game,” Perry said. “She had high expectations for these kids, but they always lived up to those expectations.”
Perry said Lombardi helped the four-year-old students learn manners and responsibility by hanging up their coats, pushing in their chairs, etc. with parents often in the class watching along.
“Children like structure and I run a structured room,” Lombardi said. “They know what’s expected of them each day and once you get that in place they thrive and develop wonderful work habits.”
When that structure was interrupted by the pandemic, Lombardi and St. Mark’s staff adapted by making deliveries to the homes of her students for their projects. It was a “wonderful and strange” experience according to Lombardi, but worth it to see the students anticipating her arrival on their front lawns.
“I will miss all of it, but especially the day to day banter with my co-workers and assistants and seeing those little children come in everyday and be so excited to come to school,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi is looking forward to relaxing and spending more time with her sons Matt and Kevin, daughter Katie, and her four grandchildren.