(Editor’s observe: the print version of this story states that checks should be despatched to the Hopewell Valley Education and learning Association. It should really have browse the Hopewell Valley Education and learning Foundation, PO Box 553, Pennington NJ 08534. Group News regrets the error.)

Dick Fitzpatrick, lengthy-time educator in the Hopewell Valley faculty district, with Toll Gator, the Toll Gate Grammar School mascot, in 1996. Fitzpatrick is remaining honored for his optimistic influence on the district with a scholarship in his name.

Marcie Boucher has vivid recollections of Dick Fitzpatrick’s to start with day as principal of Toll Gate Grammar Faculty in 1994.

She remembers the crimson balloons he had positioned all all around the entrance to the university. And she remembers his “patented, get-notice clap.” He greeted the students with a smile and a handshake, finding to know each of them by identify commencing on working day one particular.

“The initial working day of college is often remarkable, but this was at a new level,” Boucher states. She was a mother or father of a Toll Gate scholar then, but would go on to work closely with Fitzpatrick each there and later at Stony Brook Elementary College. “He brought a whole new vitality. He created you want to get on board and participate. It was just a really uplifting, encouraging time.”

Fitzpatrick’s job in schooling spanned 50 percent a century. He used just 10 of these many years working in Hopewell Valley, but that was all the time he essential to have a lasting influence on the learners, mother and father and academics of Toll Gate Grammar College and Stony Brook Elementary University.

Two a long time ago, struggling from problems, Fitzpatrick went to the medical professional. Exams uncovered that he had glioblastoma, an intense sort of cancer. He was 71 and nevertheless performing what he loved, but the analysis inevitably led him to step down from his posture as superintendent of the Higher Freehold Regional School District.

This calendar year, a group of mothers and fathers, educators, good friends and relatives of Dick Fitpatrick acquired with each other to come up with a way of recognizing Fitzpatrick for his contributions to the Hopewell Valley community. The conversations led to the creation of the Dick Fitzpatrick Education Fund and a scholarship for just one university-sure Central High School senior who attended both Toll Gate or Stony Brook. The fund will be managed by the Hopewell Valley Training Basis.

The way the team sees it, the scholarship is a excellent way to honor Fitzpatrick for the profound influence he experienced on the folks he fulfilled for the duration of his years in the Valley.

“He was a gift to all of us,” states Carolyn DiMuzio, a 4th grade trainer at Stony Brook, who was there when Fitzpatrick was the principal. “It was a present to be equipped to work with him, spend time with him, and be impacted by his leadership.”

Megan Domaracki, Fitzpatrick’s daughter, suggests that staying a principal and a superintendent meant everything to her father. “Yes, his household introduced him pleasure, but faculty truly was his total existence, and I think the toughest issue for him now is that he had to wander away from it,” she suggests. “He remembers all the learners and all their accomplishments and talks about them all the time.

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Dick and Jane Fitzpatrick moved to Hopewell Valley from the Boston area in 1994. Fitzpatrick experienced now been working in schools for extra than two a long time as an elementary college instructor and principal when he took the work at Toll Gate. Jane was also a teacher who experienced still left the workforce to just take treatment of their 7 children.

Most of the Fitzpatrick children — Matthew, Colleen, Katie, Sean, Judy, Kara, and Megan — were grown by 1994, but Domaracki was 5 at the time and a pupil at Toll Gate. She remembers the experience that she was sharing her father with her classmates.

“So quite a few persons to this working day explain to me things they keep in mind my father performing, or approaches in which he impacted their existence,” she states. “Even compact points, like ‘I remember when your father juggled oranges in the cafeteria at lunch time,’ or occasions when he assisted them remedy a challenge.”

Yet another lasting memory for Domaracki is the lengthy hours her father worked. “I spent so substantially time at college with him, I used so considerably time in his office. His motor vehicle would be out in front of that school till the wee several hours of the early morning,” states Domaracki, who functions for Harvard University today, carrying out alumni engagement. “The day just before faculty would get started, I feel he was at faculty all evening. He was definitely focused.”

Megan Domaracki, heart, at her marriage ceremony in 2018, with moms and dads Jane and Dick Fitzpatrick.

Boucher initially got to know Fitzpatrick as a member of the Toll Gate Dad or mum-Instructor Corporation. She was a nursery school trainer at St. Matthew’s Preschool throughout the road when Fitzpatrick hired her at Toll Gate as a kindergarten teacher’s aide. They also acquired to know a single one more far better for the reason that they taught CCD courses collectively, via St. James Roman Catholic Church in Pennington.

“I can keep in mind he would compose messages on the white board every single day, very encouraging and insightful messages, and I keep in mind wondering, ‘I would like a person would generate a message for me each individual working day when I appear downstairs for breakfast!” suggests Boucher, who moved to California in 2006 before settling in Pittsburgh, in which she is now retired.

At Toll Gate, Fitzpatrick labored to instill a sense of community togetherness with his R3 philosophy: Respect for each individual other Accountable for words and actions be Affordable and honest.

“He was anyone who cared about what was in someone’s head, but also their hearts,” Boucher claims. “He cared about them being great citizens and superior people today.”

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When the new Brandon Farms development necessitated the design of a new elementary faculty in Hopewell Valley, the district questioned Fitzpatrick to be its very first principal.

“I think it was a genuinely tough conclusion for him,” Domaracki suggests. “He was so satisfied at Toll Gate, but the thought that he could establish it from the ground up and make his ideal faculty was interesting to him. He interviewed each and every single trainer they hired.”

Fitzpatrick asked Boucher to go with him as his secretary. For a calendar year they shared an office environment in the administration making. Fitzpatrick was involved in just about every component of the new school, from the format and interior design and style of the college to its theme: Get to for the Stars. R3 grew to become ★3.

At the coronary heart of the new college would be a celestial mural of a twilight sky. Boucher says the rotunda represents the ideas Fitzpatrick needed the university group to embrace: research for truth, appreciate beauty, demonstrate goodness.

“Everything from the peak of the desks in the office to university student desks and tools was selected with what was finest for college students,” she claims.

Stony Brook Elementary University opened in 2001. DiMuzio, who had been with Fitzpatrick at Toll Gate, rejoined him at Stony Brook. She says he experienced a amazing capability to encourage other people.

“He understood each individual pupil. He would greet them in the early morning with their name,” she claims. “He additional a private contact to the entire faculty populace. He understood mom and dad, he knew grandparents, he had an incredible skill to greet them personally. He was capable in some way to instill a love of studying in every college student and teacher that he came in contact with.”

Fitzpatrick always experienced a aptitude for producing traditions and memorable gatherings in his schools. Sixth-quality graduation — fifth-grade graduation immediately after the sixth grade moved to Timberlane Center Faculty — is just one illustration.

“He created these kinds of a particular evening of that evening and he experienced such awareness to each element,” Di Muzio suggests. “He wanted the balloons to be a particular way and the flowers and tables a sure way. It was so critical to him that he could generate one thing like that would be a memory for the class that was graduating.”

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Even though he was operating at Stony Brook, Fitzpatrick was also doing work on earning his doctorate diploma in schooling. In 2004, he still left Stony Brook to become superintendent of the Colts Neck Faculty District.

“That was a actually tricky selection, due to the fact he cherished what he was carrying out. He loved the lecturers and his pupils,” Domaracki claims. “But he felt like he was all set to take the following stage and be a superintendent, and the Colts Neck opportunity came up.”

Soon after a few years he moved on to the Upper Freehold faculty district and labored as superintendent there. He was continue to there, more than 50 years into his educational profession, when he been given the cancer prognosis that created it important for him to retire.

In March, a team of folks together with Boucher, DiMuzio, DiMuzio’s husband, Tom, and Phil Volpe began formalizing their strategy to figure out Fitzpatrick with a scholarship to be awarded in his title. Domaracki suggests her loved ones was touched by the gesture.

“We were all just really blown absent,” she says. “My father, a lot more than anything at all, devoted his total lifetime to education and learning and striving to make an effects for little ones. So the idea of generating a scholarship to empower little ones to keep on their schooling in his identify, I just cannot think of a better way to honor him.”

When Domaracki was in college or university, her parents moved to Newtown, Pennsylvania. But Jane is continue to concerned in the Pennington local community, wherever she teaches at St. Matthews Preschool.

And Dick is forever in the hearts and minds of the people today of Hopewell Valley who bought to know him when he was their principal.

“I really do not know how he did it,” Boucher says. “He has this huge spouse and children and he was generally included in his kids’ lives. He is just a remarkable human becoming with all that he was intrigued in and all that he could do well.”

Those fascinated in contributing to the Dick Fitzpatrick Instruction fund can mail a examine to the Hopewell Valley Training Basis, PO Box 553, Pennington NJ 08534, with “Fitzpatrick scholarship on the memo line. For more facts about the scholarship application, e-mail Tom DiMuzio at [email protected] or Phil Volpe at [email protected]