Every day when the school bus comes to pick up children at the Camden Westchase Park Apartments in Tampa, Fla., Ann Petringa Greenberg ’54 sends them off with a smile and a hug. The octogenarian is standing there to greet them when the bus returns in the afternoon.
“My hope is that each one of them knows that there is someone who cares about them, and it gives me a feeling that I am still making a difference in the lives of children,” said the long-retired reading specialist and elementary school teacher. “The children and parents—many of whom are immigrants—have gotten to know me, and it makes my day.”
Although Ann retired from a nearly three-decade career as a teacher over 30 years ago, the educator in her is still going strong. After retiring and moving to Florida, she substitute taught for a while and then served as a mentor for 16 years at a local elementary school.
Today, she teaches English as a second language to several immigrant families in her building, and through those connections, she said she has gotten to know the cultures of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Uruguay and Russia, among others.
“The English language is difficult for even American children to learn, and these children and parents are learning the language while also learning about a new culture and trying to maintain connections to their own heritage,” she said. “It is very rewarding to work with them.”
Ann admits that her friends—including a tight-knit group from SUNY Oswego—and her family tease her about talking to everyone she encounters. That builds on a philosophy she adopted as a teacher and a feeling of community she said was pervasive during her time at SUNY Oswego.
“Part of your job as a teacher is to get to know your students’ parents and families,” she said. “You want them to know that you respect them as much as their children. You want to leave your mark on their lives, and you share with them your family and who you are.”
She said she very much felt like part of a family at SUNY Oswego, and that the college community supported each other. She met her late husband, Malvin ’54, who was an industrial arts major and a member of Sigma Tau Gamma—the brother fraternity to her sorority, Alpha Epsilon-Alpha Kappa Phi. Two of their three children, Scott ’81 and Lori ’83, also attended Oswego.
She maintains friendships with several Oswego friends, including Georgia Roseman Cooper ’54, Stephany Ingraham Butler ’54, Naomi Bronowitz Smith ’54, and had ties with Corrine Kushner Starkman ’54 and Harriet Friedman Citron ’54 until their deaths in 2012 and 2007, respectively.
“I can’t explain how wonderful my years at Oswego were. It is an experience I can only wish every student who goes there shares.”