NEW ROCHELLE, NY — In a statement by the City School District of New Rochelle issued Friday, the District has confirmed Joy Gaglia died of COVID-19.
Talk of the Sound reported on her passing on Tuesday: New Rochelle Middle School Employee Dies
Isaac E. Young Middle School teachers and staff will pause at 11 a.m. Monday in memory of Joy Gaglia, a long-time teaching assistant beloved for her sense of humor, her kindness and willingness to help others, who succumbed to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Colleagues recalled her wit, her generosity, the large jar of candy she kept filled to reward students after a test, and a laugh so heartfelt it could be heard from the next room.
“Joy would offer to help you before you even knew you needed help, you didn’t even have to ask,” said friend and colleague Stacey Anastacio. “She always had something to offer: her knowledge, a hand, advice, her time, even a candy to brighten your day.”
Mrs. Gaglia served the City School District of New Rochelle for 25 years. At IEYMS, in addition to helping teachers, she ran the testing center for special needs students. She passed away Tuesday.
Unable to attend the funeral ceremony for social distancing reasons, the staff of IEYMS plans to stop what they are doing at 11 a.m. Monday to silently remember her.
Superintendent of Schools Laura Feijóo and Board of Education President Amy Moselhi called on all across the District to take a moment at the same time in honor of the educator. The Board will also hold a moment of silence for Mrs. Gaglia Tuesday evening at the start of the Board of Education meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. by video conference.
“With the loss of someone as special as Mrs. Gaglia, the tragedy of this worldwide pandemic truly hits home,” said President Moselhi. “The Board of Education offers its condolences to Mrs. Gaglia’s family at home and her larger family at Isaac E. Young Middle School. In these difficult times, it is that much more important for everyone in our community to support one another. The loss of such a devoted, beloved educator is felt by us all.”
“Our hearts go out to Mrs. Gaglia’s family, and to the Isaac Young Middle School community,” Dr. Feijóo said. “All of the love her colleagues express for her, and the stories they tell about her warmth, friendship and wit are a testament to a prime example of what makes the City School District of New Rochelle so special.”
The testing center Mrs. Gaglia ran is a separate location where students with IEPs and 504 plans can go to take their tests, quizzes, and exams. Mrs. Gaglia was a passionate advocate for special needs students, and served as a parent advocate for families of such children. She was perfectly suited to serve the school’s most vulnerable students with the greatest needs, her colleagues said.
When students finished a test, they were allowed to choose from an array of sweets in a large jar that she kept stocked. During state tests, she provided snacks, taking care to include Kosher options for students who preferred them.
She inspired students to feel important and capable, and with her sense of humor, she could break into peals of infectious laughter that Mrs. Anastacio could hear from her classroom next door.
“Joy was funny as could be, had a quick wit and could always be counted on for a laugh and a smile,” Mrs. Anastacio said. “We would often hear her big beautiful laugh through the wall, and it was contagious. My class and I would laugh in turn.”
Mrs. Gaglia loved novels and history. In one gesture, shortly before schools were closed March 12 for the COVID-19 crisis, she brought a surprise present for history teacher Martin White, a friend. Aware that Mr. White was teaching his students about the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, Mrs. Gaglia brought him an authenticated musket ball from the era to show his class.
“The students were amazed that the musket ball was over two hundred and forty years old,” Mr. White said. “It was a true primary source.”
Her colleagues were also moved by her relationship with her husband, Nick.
“He brought her to work every day, carrying her book bag, and would pick her up after school,” said Filomena Daniele, a sixth-grade English and reading teacher who knew Mrs. Gaglia some 20 years. “They were devoted to each other and communicated that so beautifully through their commitment.”
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Gaglia is survived by two sons, Robert and Joseph; a sister, Sharon; and two grandchildren.
When the COVID-19 crisis passes and schools re-open, the faculty plans to sit Shiva for her in the faculty lounge.
Along with the stories of Mrs. Gaglia to recount, some of her colleagues have mementos to hold onto. Mrs. Gaglia was part of a circle of friends at IEYMS who would meet each morning to share breakfast. Last Christmas, she gave each of the other members a Christmas ornament. On each ornament was one word: “Joy.”