Hewlett-Woodmere School District faculty members and students from past and present shared their memories of beloved Woodmere Middle School faculty member Anthony Cardinale.
The district announced that the middle school technology teacher died on Jan. 6 from Covid-19 complications. He was 51. Cardinale had contracted the virus during the holiday break.
A Brooklyn native, he began working in the Hewlett-Woodmere district in September of 2004, all at Woodmere Middle School. Cardinale was previously a teacher at Valley Stream Central High School from 1996 to 2004.
He also served as an adviser to clubs and activities at the school including, the art, chess, multimedia and video clubs, along with being the set designer for the middle school’s musicals and the trip coordinator for the sixth and eighth grades.
Cardinale was well known for taking photographs as the students presented their projects at the History and science fairs, Career Day, Invention Convention and many other school events.
Superintendent Dr. Ralph Marino Jr. said in a statement that Cardinale was a well-liked staff member. “The Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools family suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Mr. Anthony Cardinale,” Marino wrote. “He was an extraordinary and caring educator who always put his students first. It was impossible not to smile while in his presence and feel uplifted after even the briefest conversation with him.”
Alexandria Blair is a Hewlett-Woodmere graduate who currently works as a teaching assistant at the middle school. Blair had Cardinale as a teacher during her middle school years and noted how his class helped her get through tough times.
“My middle school experience was not easy to say the least being the new kid who moved from out of district and being in the midst of being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease,” Blair said. “Mr. Cardinale was always kind to me when kids were not. His class was exciting and he never failed to make us laugh. He made coming to school easier, even on my hardest days.”
Blair noted that it was an honor to be a co-worker of Cardinale’s years after she sat in his classroom. “I can hear his voice carrying down the hall, my first year working at WMS, telling anyone who would listen, ‘Did you know this beautiful young lady was my student?” she said. “This man had such a genuine and sweet soul.”
Anthony Sylmetaj said he was a friend of Cardinale’s for roughly 30 years. He described Cardinale as being a gentleman. “Every year, we would all go out for Christmas dinner with our families and have 4th of July barbecues,” Sylmetaj said. “I’ll miss meeting up at the pool hall every weekend. Anthony made everyone around him feel comfortable like the true gentleman he was.”
Marino added that Cardinale will always be remembered fondly by students and staff. “Mr. Cardinale will be greatly missed by all,” he said. “His legacy will live on through the memories of all who had the honor of knowing him.”