April 23 – Happy Birthday Rachel DiGennaro

digennaro222When the decision was made, it was perhaps the most coveted elementary school assignment in the history of the Amsterdam School District. That’s why few were surprised when Superintendent of Schools, Raphael J. McNulty announced in April of 1964 that the Principal of the brand new elementary school named in his honor would be today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant.

Rachel DiGennaro was at the time a shining light in the public schools of this city. She had been born in Amsterdam on April 23, 1912, one of three daughters raised by Nick and Carmella Bursese DiGennaro. She graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1930. She got her original teaching degree from Oneonta State Teachers College and then went to Syracuse University where she earned both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s in Education along with certification as as elementary principal.

She then returned to Amsterdam and started teaching third grade at Arnold Avenue School. To this day, if you run into one of her former classroom students from that institution and ask them if they remember her, be prepared to hear the phrase “the best teacher I ever had” in their response.

She started her administrative career filling in as “acting principal” of Woodrow Wilson Elementary. It wasn’t long after that that the school board approved her appointment as principal at Arnold Ave. Simply put, everyone loved the way this elegant lady ran a school including the students, their parents and her staff.

Miss DiGennaro had the sort of positive attitude and enthusiasm for school and education that was infectious. She treated everyone …

The rest of Rachel DiGennaro’s birthday post will be published in the second editionof A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which will be available for sale right after Thanksgiving. To make sure you get your hands on one of the first copies, join my mailing list here.

The first edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which features my birthday posts for 320 current or former Amsterdam residents, is currently being sold at Liberty Fresh Market, on Route 30 in Amsterdam. You can also purchase it online here.

One of Amsterdam’s very first car dealers was also born on April 23.

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