Retiring Cascade principal 'ready for the next adventure'

Pellegrino says 'Teaching is fun and learning is fun'

April 06, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

CASCADE -- Ava Garner sat up with a start when she heard the word "swing" in her kindergarten class last week.

"I can totally write that. That was one of my 'ing' words," the Cascade Elementary student said. Ava had heard the word earlier in the day when working on an exercise involving words that end in "ing."

That, said Cascade Principal Rose Pellegrino, was an "aha" moment.

"She took something ... that she had heard that morning and took it to another level," Pellegrino said.

It's those "aha" moments that led Pellegrino to spend her entire 36-year career with Washington County Public Schools at the elementary school level.

Pellegrino, who has spent her entire career in the same school system, is retiring after this school year.

"It's time," she said. "I've enjoyed so much."

After teaching physical education for 16 years, Pellegrino became an assistant principal and then a principal, at Cascade for the past six years.


"I think I'm ready for the next adventure," Pellegrino said. She's not sure what that adventure is yet, but it will probably be in the education field.

This adventure began when she was attending Union Catholic High School in Union, N.J. Noticing how easy she found algebra, her teacher asked Pellegrino to help some of the other students. She ended up doing the same in her chemistry class.

"I enjoyed that," said Pellegrino, who lives in Frederick, Md. "It came easy to me and the teachers would ask me to help them."

Those experiences and her father's influence led her to earn her teaching degree in health and physical education from West Chester State in Pennsylvania.

Her father, the late Tony Pellegrino, was a mechanic with a natural way of teaching, she said.

Visiting her aunt and uncle in Hagerstown during the summer of 1974, Pellegrino filled out a teaching application while she was in town. A week later, she was offered a job, and a choice of teaching in an elementary, middle or high school.

She chose elementary school because an elementary school teacher for whom she student taught showed her how much fun it could be teaching phys ed to young children.

"It wasn't a job. It was school. She loved what she did," Pellegrino said.

The same can be said for Pellegrino, who turned a teaching career into an administrative career in which she stays in touch with the students.

How else would you explain her enthusiasm in kissing a pig or dressing up as a chicken to do a chicken dance as a reward for her students reaching a goal?

"Teaching is fun and learning is fun," Pellegrino said.

Pellegrino's career

1974-87: Physical education teacher, Funkstown and Pleasant Valley Elementary schools

1987-90: Physical education teacher, Salem Avenue Elementary

1990-93: Assistant principal, Bester Elementary

1993-95: Assistant principal, Fountaindale Elementary

1995-96: Assistant principal, Eastern Elementary

1996-99: Principal, Funkstown Elementary

1999-2003: Principal, Eastern Elementary

2002-2004: Principal, Pleasant Valley Elementary

2004-2010: Principal, Cascade Elementary

Pellegrino also coached during the late 1970s and early 1980s. She coached basketball and track and field at South Hagerstown High, volleyball and basketball at Hagerstown Community College, and basketball at Smithsburg High.

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