After a combined 68 years of service to the Caldwell-West Caldwell School District, retiring Superintendent Daniel Gerardi and Business Administrator Ronald Skopak cleaned out their offices and said goodbye for the last time.
At the forefront of their thoughts, they said, was cleaning out their offices and finding places for all the materials they have accumulated over the years. Gerardi said he might even end up staying late trying to figure out what should stay and what should go, not knowing for certain what will be useful to his successor.
“You wouldn’t think one room could hold so much,” Gerardi said, as he surveyed the stacks of folders and envelopes, the posters on the walls and his “unusually clean” desk. On this day the office was sparse and quiet, giving Gerardi and Skopak plenty of time to organize their desks, their thoughts and contemplate what they would do with their retirement (or say in their last interview, for that matter).
Neither Gerardi nor Skopak have concrete plans outside of spending more time with their families; Skopak said he is particularly looking forward to being with his grandchildren and the freedom his schedule will give him. “To me, retirement means not doing anything I don’t want to do,” Skopak said. “My goal is not to do anything I don’t want to do.”
“I’m not sure yet [what I’m going to do],” Gerardi said. “As happy as I am about retiring, there’s always a bit of anxiety about what’s next.” For now, Gerardi is happy to know that whatever he does, he won’t have to worry about listening to traffic reports in the morning.
Both men discussed the long hours and demanding schedule their jobs required of them for so long. Getting to work early in the morning, working throughout the day and going to meetings in the evening have given them little time to develop hobbies or relax during the week.
The vibe from the two men was one of contented nostalgia. Like students on their last day of school, they are keen on starting vacation, but proud of what they’ve accomplished over the years. “There’s not one, specific thing that I’m most proud of,” said Gerardi. “But I am proud of hiring most of the people who will carry on the district.”
And, of course, the two remain flattered and grateful for the high school’s Center of the Performing Arts, which has been dedicated to them. They agree, however, the awards and accolades were not why they worked as hard as they have. Both have an impressive collection of degrees and plaques, which may or may not have a place for display in their homes. “They’ll probably go in a box for a while,” Skopak said.
With their golden years in front of them, the two remained complimentary of the community and how they have worked together to improve the school district during their careers. They feel confident in those who will take their chairs on Monday, and Gerardi is resolved to leave one particular parting gift for Dr. James Heinegg, the new superintendent:
The flip-chart he used for reports to the Board of Education, turned to the page with Porky Pig, saying, “Ybda, ybda, ybda… That’s all folks.”