Camille Ferraro (1953-2020)

“Why don’t you start a blog and write a book?”

Camille Ferraro was a teacher in Queens, New York for over 40 years before retiring this year.

That was one of the last things I remember Miss Ferraro (Even into my thirties, I wouldn’t dare call her Camille) said to me the last time I saw her more than a year ago, and I held her ear for one of my many rants.

I was never *officially* a student of Miss Ferraro’s second grade class at St. Mary Gate of Heaven, but at my elementary school, every teacher was our teacher, and she was one of the VIPs. She taught for over 40 years and retired this year, working right up until the school’s closure.

Miss Ferraro passed away today, June 11, at the age of 66.

I started this blog to share my thoughts, opinions and my writing. Miss Ferraro encouraged me, but she is also a big reason why I am who I am, so I’m taking this moment to celebrate her.

It’s impossible to tally how many people have had their young lives molded in some way by Miss Ferraro; that number is definitely thousands, maybe tens of thousands. In some cases, she taught two generations of the same family. So many of us carry a piece of her influence and guidance every day. I’m lucky to count myself among them.

What I will miss most about Miss Ferraro is perhaps how much fun she was, not only in school, but also in social settings. She was such a community staple that we just kind of always assume she’d always be there. Miss Ferraro often got an invite to her students’ and former students’ Communions, or Confirmations, graduations and even weddings, and she made a point to go to as many as possible and when she arrived, EVERYBODY was excited to see her. She even came to our class reunions. It was kind of awkward to be doing shots of Blackhaus with your former teacher standing right next to you, but (although she didn’t drink) she enjoyed watching us have fun and celebrating.

Miss Ferraro, bottom row, third from the right in pink, joins St. Mary Gate of Heaven’s Class of 1997, her former students, during our ten year reunion in June, 2007 at McFadden’s Saloon in Midtown Manhattan. I am in the black shirt, front row, third from left

She was funny, warm, witty and smart. She was always interested in what her former students were up and was quick to give advice and support. I never once saw her not smile. Her voice, which I can hear clearly right now with her deep New Yawk accent, was a source of comfort and familiarity.

Miss Ferraro, you will be missed. And at our 25th *gulp* class reunion in 2022, the Class fo 1997 will take the opportunity to honor you!

And everyone out there who has a special teacher they’re thinking about today. Find them and thank them. They are priceless.

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