It was the end of an era Monday as School Committee chair Susan Ruzzo attended her final meeting after nine years of service.
"I still want to be involved," Ruzzo told her fellow committee members at Monday's meeting. "I just need a little break."
That break, according to Medfield Superintendent of Schools Bob Maguire and School Committee vice chair Debra Noschese, is well deserved.
"It’s sad for all of us," Noschese told Ruzzo near the end of Monday's meeting. "We so appreciate all of your service. People may not realize what's involved in being on the school committee other than getting together on Monday nights. There are subcommittees and you’ve always stepped up and volunteered to offer your help with working on the budgets, working on contracts for the teachers, custodians, secretaries, you’ve done them all. ... Thank you very much for all that you’ve done for all the kids."
Said Maguire: "As an administrator, I’m very appreciative of all of your years of service. People don’t know outside of what they might see at a school committee meeting, how much, particularly when someone is the chair of the committee, I rely on having conversations and communications and really getting a sense of the kinds of things you do. ... I’m going to personally miss you."
Ruzzo was chair of the School Committee twice in nine years and served voluntarily on countless subcommittees. On Monday, that volunteerism and hard work was recognized with a plaque, presented to Ruzzo on behalf of the School Committee and administration, engraved with the following message:
"Presented to Susan L. Ruzzo for nine years of dedicated service to the children and community of the Medfield Public Schools.
With Deep Appreciation,
Medfield School Committee,
March 19, 2012."
Ruzzo was appreciative of the recognition by her colleagues.
"It’s been a great nine years, I couldn’t have asked for better people to be on the committee with," said Ruzzo. "You guys are all great from a professional level and a personal level, it’s just been a pleasure. Everyone has brought something different and I have learned so much from everyone."
The experiences over nine years have been both large and small and Ruzzo believes she is leaving the committee a better and more knowledgeable person.
"I am embarrassed to admit how little I actually knew about town government and state government and everything that goes into putting a school district together," Ruzzo said. "I’ve just learned so much and that’s what I get to take away with me. ... I have such a better understanding of how hard everyone in the district works and it’s given me the opportunity to work with administrators in all different areas that I would never have had the chance to have relationships with and everyone that works in the Superintendent’s office. I’m a better person for that. I’ve really enjoyed it."
Humbled by the committee's gratitude, Ruzzo admitted it was a sad night and hoped, when reflecting on her nine years of work, that her service benefited the district.
"I'm going to miss you guys," Ruzzo told the committee. "I hope that I’ve brought something to the table. I’ve gotten a lot out of it. I’ve probably gotten more than I’ve brought."
School committee member, Tim Bonfatti, who was last year's chair, thanked Ruzzo for all the work she did for the district over the years.
"I don’t think people realize how much you volunteer for the subcommittees," Bonfatti said to Ruzzo. "Thank you very much [for your service]."
Eileen DeSisto, the committee’s financial secretary, also thanked Ruzzo for her service and for encouraging her to join the committee last April.
Noschese added Ruzzo was "a great colleague" that will be missed.
Christopher Morrison, the committee's recording secretary, recalled his time working with Ruzzo on various subcommittees and said her experience will be missed greatly.
"I just want to say Sue, we worked closely on the negotiating committee and the budget this year and the role we are going to have real hard time filling this year is having somebody who really has deep roots in this community," Morrison said. "I'm a transplant, a lot of us in the community are, but you have some really deep roots and we will probably continue to call on you."
Charles Kellner, Medfield School District's director of finance and operations voiced appreciation for the seven-plus years he worked with Ruzzo.
"I appreciate everything you've done to support me over the seven and a half years we've worked together," Kellner said. "Thank you."
Ruzzo said while she plans to take a break, she expects to still assist the committee as a Medfield resident.
"I hope if you ever need anything you call me," Ruzzo told her colleagues. "And if anything ever percolates with the Dale Street School [renovation project], I’m up to, as a citizen, be on that committee."