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The revered principal of Bayside High School is stepping down.
Judith Tarlo, principal of the school since 2001, announced her plan to retire to faculty and staff during a morning meeting June 26, the last day of the school year, school employees said. She will not return when the school reopens for classes this September.
The announcement came as a shock to some staff members.
"I think that people were sad that she's going, but they're happy that this is something she wants to do," said Michelle Barretta, a BHS history teacher.
Tarlo was a mentor for teachers, said Barretta, who began her first teaching position at the school five years ago. "She had the ability to let everyone do what they're good at and to do it well, Barretta said.
She was also known for her excellent rapport with students.
"She knew hundreds of students by their names," said Frank Skala, of the school's alumni association.
Tarlo encouraged her students to seek educational opportunities outside of school and inspired them to make a difference in their community, Barretta said.
When Tarlo came to Bayside, it was just weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.
Lynn Nigro, an employee in the school's student organization office for 15 years, remembers Tarlo being calm and collected despite the chaos of the day's tragic events. "She rose to the plate there," Nigro said.
Earlier this year, Tarlo was honored as "Principal of the Year" by the Phi Delta Kappa society at the Teachers College at Columbia University in Manhattan.
According to a biography published by the society, Tarlo worked with the city Department of Education prior to coming to Bayside. She also was an assistant principal at John Jay High School in Brooklyn and at one point worked as a special education teacher.
She received her education at the State University of New York in Albany, New York University and City College. Tarlo lives in Brooklyn with her husband, David, a math teacher, and has two married sons named Howard and Joseph.
Nigro said one of Tarlo's sons had a baby recently and may have wanted more time to spend with her family.
"I don't know even if she knew she was going to retire," Nigro said. "She just felt this was what she had to do now."
Since BHS opened in 1936, Tarlo was the school's 12th principal.
The DOE is aware of Tarlo's retirement and accepting applications for her position.
Still, finding a replacement will not be easy.
"Whoever comes in to take her place is going have big shoes to fill," Barretta said. "She's done a great job."
Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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