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May 2024

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Courtesy Photo Lori Passino proudly poses outside her 2nd grade classroom

Well-loved teacher to retire after nearly 27 years

Elementary years are arguably the most formative years in a student’s life. Children are naturally curious, learning manners, understanding social norms, and forming crucial skills which will carry them through the rest of their lives. If your child is lucky, they will have at least one teacher who loves them for simply existing, and will devote everything to build up your child through constant encouragement, focusing on their strengths, and banning criticism only leaving room for growth and learning.

For nearly 27 years, the children in Questa have been lucky enough to experience just that with Lori Passino.

“My mom was a big part of why I became an educator,” Passino says of her decision to become a teacher. “We would see her bring home projects and work and my sisters and I thought, hey that’s such a cool job, so we all went on to become educators.” While Passino’s mom was a big catalyst which led to her and her sisters becoming educators, her natural passion for helping children learn and grow is irrefutable.

“I have loved my career,” Passino says of teaching for almost three decades.Throughout her career, she has exclusively taught elementary school in Questa and is currently the lead teacher at Alta Vista Elementary and Intermediate School, playing a similar leadership role to a principal. She is also teaching 2nd grade. Passino notes she has a special love for teaching 2nd graders. “It’s my favorite because kids are still very impressionable yet rapidly developing. They’re curious but kind. And my favorite, they’re learning how to read! It’s so wonderful to see their skills bloom before your eyes.”

When discussing some of the most difficult parts of her career, Passino was quick to point to the difficulties the evolving tech reality of our society plays on our students. “Technology is part of our kids’ lives so sometimes they just want to be on a computer or a phone. It’s hard because you want them to still interact person-to-person. That has been a learning curve for all teachers, to keep kids engaged so they can learn,” she says.

Passino also talked about how important engaging every parent in their child’s learning journey has been. “It really is a partnership. Teachers only have the kids for 7 or 8 hours a day and the rest of their time, they’re home. It’s so important for parents to be engaged so kids can feel consistency,” she notes.

Passino is retiring this May, after nearly 27 years of service as a teacher. When asked what she is going to miss most, Passino expressed how much her teaching colleagues have meant to her through the years.
She went on to talk about how she will miss the kids. “I am now at the point in my career where I am teaching my former students’ kids! The kids always get a kick out of that, and they will joke with me saying ‘you were my mom or dad’s teacher!’ and I always laugh and say ‘yup! I sure was!’– things like that, I really am going to miss.”

Fighting back tears, Passino says she is feeling so many mixed emotions with her upcoming retirement. With feeling both a sense of accomplishment, there is also a sense of sadness knowing this chapter is coming to a close. “It’s time now for me to step away for a while and just take a break. I will say, however, I don’t know how long I will be able to stay away. I think I will be back to teaching in some fashion in the future.”

Through her career, Passino says her amazing family has been her cornerstone of constant support and love. “They have always been my biggest support system, my husband Paul and my children Paul Jr. (JR), Larissa, and Kiana. They have shared me with so many other families in our community and I am so eternally grateful for them.”

Passino recently shared a social media post with the Questa del Rio News, detailing all the things she missed about teaching in a classroom. She says: “THIS is what I will miss upon my retirement: the kids’ stories, the jokes, the hugs, the smiles, the laughs, the out-of-the-box thinking, the sound of their voice reading a book, their singing, their willingness to try, the look they give when they understand something new, their amazing questions, the connections they make through the day, their kindness, their friendship with their peers, their desire to be the best they can be, their inquisitive minds, their drawings, the classroom family. I will miss them.”

Passino looks forward to taking some time off to focus on her daughter Kiana’s upcoming wedding in August. She also says she is looking forward to traveling more with her husband, Paul and family.

A note from the Editor:
On behalf of the community, thank you, Lori for the impact you’ve had on our students, families, parents, and school district. You have left each person you’ve encountered better, and your impact will continue to resonate through generations. Thank you.
-Mikayla Ortega
Questa del Rio News