McNicholas retires after 14 years


Photo Credit: Julia Blando

Mrs. Diane McNicholas teaches her English 11 Honors class about “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams.

by Julia Blando, Copy Editor

14 years ago, Ms. Patricia Mahoney, head of the English department, interviewed a “very, very experienced teacher” with “snappy style” and a “huge heart” for an English teaching position. This teacher was obviously qualified for the job, having years of experience, starting in 1968, and teaching in both public and private schools, including New Milford High School, Bergen Catholic High School, Immaculate Heart Academy, Ramsey High School, and Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest. She nailed the interview, and dove into the job head first without training.  Her name is Mrs. Diane McNicholas.mcnich3

The school will suffer a great loss when she retires in February of 2017, to “explore other things in life,” such as painting, yoga, and babysitting her new grandson.

“I feel like I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do,” she said.

One of McNicholas’ best universally recognized features by students, coworkers, and authoritative figures, is her fashion choices. She hopes to be remembered as a committed woman with nice shoes.

“Her style is the best,” Julia Cancro, junior, said. “She has a lot of nice clothing and handbags.”  

Mr. John Arlotta, principal, admires her “impeccable” style, as well as her motivation to continue to learn and try new things in the classroom, even toward the very end of her career. Mahoney also agrees that she has always been open to new ideas, including teaching new books, courses and technology. McNicholas has never wanted to stop learning and progressing as a teacher.

In 2012, Jason Toncic, English teacher, started as a novice teacher at Glen Rock High School, with McNicholas as his mentor. They would go to some of each other’s classes, and then talk afterward about what they saw, what was good, and what could use some improvement.

“She is a very intelligent, witty person….I looked to her as someone who was wiser than myself,” Toncic said.

McNicholas is known as one of the most respected, caring teachers in the school, but students and coworkers know she means business. She has found a good balance with high, yet attainable standards for her students. She even assists her junior students with college by helping them write and edit their essays and resumes, before the college application process begins.

Not only is she an outstanding teacher, but she is also very personable and comical. Mahoney recalls one of her favorite stories told by one of her “best friends,” McNicholas.

McNicholas bought a pair of boots at the store one day, which she wore out and for the remainder of the day. She was walking strangely all day long, and kept trailing off to one side. When she arrived home, she realized she had bought two left shoes. She called the store where she had bought the boots, and they had been “expecting her” because another woman had bought two right boots.

In the English office when the mood needs to be lifted, Mahoney asks McNicholas to retell this story. She always agrees, and stands up and acts it out as if she were reliving the moment.

Mahoney and Arlotta are currently in the process of advertising and interviewing to replace McNicholas by Feb. 1, 2017.

“Ms. McNicholas is kind of the type of teacher you want to have as a principal,” Arlotta said.