Dear Good Shepherd Community,
Many of you who have come to know me over the past 9 years also know that this was my second time to be at Good Shepherd. I began as 5 year old, back in the day, and graduated in 1958. Good Shepherd was Church and school to my family, including cousins, and to my husbands’ family as well.
After many years in Education and away from Inwood I returned to my first Alma Mater to be a member of The Friends of Good Shepherd Board to join in the effort to save GSS from closing. With the blessing of Father Robert Abbatiello that effort led to my actually joining the School Administration with Mrs. Agnes McNamara.
A tremendous effort to implement A Strategic Plan in Academics and Building Restoration began. This work was initiated by the FoGSS founders, John Brennan, Rich Scarlata and Manny Ramirez, all alumni of GSS whose fondness and loyalty to Good Shepherd refused to allow it to be closed. With help from other alums Aris Ovalle, Peter Sweeney and other Board Members the work began. It still continues to the day and more alums Janine Meehan Lynch and Eileen Connaughton have joined FoGSS also. Over the years FoGSS has led many fund raising campaigns and contributed finances to the school that have transformed it as a Parish School into the success it is today.
My return to GSS was especially rewarding because it not only let me reconnect with many Inwoodites I knew from the old days but I got to know another wholly new population from Inwood today. The Inwood I grew up in was Irish-American (famously so). Inwood today is a mixture of the Dominican community and an array of gentrifiers who have discovered the charm and convenience of the tip of Manhattan Island.
My most satisfying experience of the past 9 years has been getting to be part of the life of the children at GSS and their lovely families. The work is about trying to bring the best school experience to the children so they can thrive in Elementary School and beyond. The goal of FoGSS was to give the neighborhood children of today similar opportunities that the children of the mid 20th Century received. I can say from first hand observation over the last decade that those goals were accomplished. With support from 2 Pastors, Father Abbatiello and Father Faiola, leadership from 2 Principals, Agnes McNamara and Geraldine Lavery, constant dedication from the Administrative Assistant, Hilda Kennedy and a hard working Faculty, the School was transformed from a failing ADNY School into a thriving private Parish School. Many, many people deserve credit for this accomplishment, not in the least the amazing Alumni and Alumnae whose generosity in fund raising efforts kept the Blue doors open at GSS and they still continue to contribute.
Two metaphors come to mind when I think of the Good Shepherd story.
First is the child’s story The Little Engine That Could. FoGSS believed in the worthiness and the value of pushing the little GSS engine up the hill.
The other is It Takes A Village. GSS is a village within the Inwood village and it took many villagers , inside and outside Inwood to save GSS.
The cornerstone for the school is dated 1925 and in 5 years the school will celebrate a Centenary. 100 years is the next goal to strive for. I have spoken publicly about what an accomplishment it will be to celebrate that 100th Anniversary in New York City. I’ve stated I hope to be there for the celebrations, along with many, many others who have shared the journey and the history of Good Shepherd School.
I have many to thank for my last 9 years ; Pastors, Board Members, Fellow Alums, Principals, Parents, Students, Community Members. Returning to GSS was a blessing that came my way at just the right time. I often wonder if Jack Walsh had a hand in it. I think of it as an example of the expression Life Comes Full Circle
I will miss the daily activity but I have a number of other things to look forward to at this point in time.
I can not finish without singling out two women who have become far more the work colleagues to me. Hilda Kennedy and Geraldine Lavery made going to work every day a pleasure. We were a team with a purpose. Do the best for the children. We worked hard, we had fun and I certainly will miss them daily. God Bless Them for all they do at GSS.
Looking forward to the Party in 2025, We should probably get a Committee going pretty soon to plan it.
With Love to all the Good Shepherd Community. Thank you.
Ronnie Walsh, '58