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Photo submitted - As his wife, Teresa, looks on, veteran bus driver Rocco Mancini, who retired on Sept. 3 after more than 42 years of service to the Canajoharie School District, accepts a plaque of appreciation from school board President Carol Balfe last Thursday.


Mancini honored for 42 years in the driver’s seat

Thursday, September 20, 2012 - Updated: 9:34 AM


C-S-E News Staff

CANAJOHARIE — It was a rough calculation, but Rocco Mancini estimated that over his 42-year 6-month career as a bus driver for the Canajoharie School District, he transported more than 940,000 students to and from Canajoharie schools.

That’s a conservative tally, though.

The veteran driver, who officially retired on September 3, didn’t factor in his daily commutes to BOCES over a four year period, or his multiple field trips, athletic events, or shuttles between West Hill and East Hill schools prior to recent additions to the East Hill complex.

He didn’t even hazard a guess about the number of times that he might have opened and closed the bus doors — a reckoning that generated laughter from those present in the high school conference room where Canajoharie School Board members officially recognized Mancini’s many years of service last Thursday night.

Mancini said his service to the district began in the fall of 1969. During his time in the driver’s seat, the district saw leadership changes four times: He served under district superintendents John Deisseroth, Thomas Mickle, Richard Rose and Deborah Grimshaw, and transportation heads Cassius Haig, Mert Haig, Glen Blanchard and Harold Walker.

Among Mancini’s many passengers were his children — Mark, Michele and Lisa — and school board member Bradley Morrison. Michele, who teaches third grade at the district, Mancini’s wife, Teresa, and their granddaughter, Francesca Nare, were present for the recognition.

When asked how he kept order on the bus, Mancini said the “whole trick” is remembering that “children are people too. You treat children as you’d like them to treat you ...  Children have good days and bad days like everyone else.”

If the children had problems, he said he always listened to them. “From Day 1, I wouldn’t let kids pick on or tease others.”

Mancini also used some traditional classroom management techniques. He said, “I talked in a low voice, and they’d have a tendency to keep other kids quiet so they could hear what I was saying.”

Additionally, Mancini seated the children according to grade level, with the youngest students in the forward seats and oldest at the rear of the bus. “I told the [seniors] they’re working their way out the back door,” he joked, noting that keeping the children with others in their age group helped them feel more comfortable.

“That’s what worked for me,” he added.

Although the retiree’s no longer in the driver’s seat, he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon. A barber in the village of Palatine Bridge for more than 50 years, Mancini is still plying his trade.

Other business conducted during the meeting included the following:

• It was estimated that opening day enrollment, district-wide, was about 1,030 students.

In response to a question by board member Bradley Morrison, it was noted the district’s free-tuition policy has attracted about 30 more students than last year. State aid is based on the district’s aggregate (total) daily attendance.

• Elementary Principal Stacy Ward, Middle School Principal Douglas Morrissey,

and High School Principal David Barnes updated board members on highlights of the first few weeks of school.

Ward noted that an earlier start in the day by elementary school students has netted 75 minutes of extra instruction time per week. Additionally, a concentrated hour-and-a-half literacy block, focused on English language arts and reading instruction for all students in first through fifth grades, is going well, she said.

Morrissey said his experience as the new middle school principal has, overall, been good. In the future, he thinks it would be beneficial to send notices and correspondence home to students prior to the first day. He’d also like to have teachers’ materials available sooner. Finally, he suggested that allowing students to set up their lockers prior to the first day could result in additional instruction time on the opening day of school.

Barnes said he conducted first-day assemblies with each grade level in order to go over the revised code of conduct, dress code, and the like. Additionally, he noted the new high school guidance counselor, who formerly worked at Owen D. Young, has assumed her post sooner than anticipated.

Grimshaw noted there have been some technology glitches related to the content filter, which was installed this summer in order to limit students’ access to undesirable content on the Internet. Efforts are being made to address the problem.


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