High School Librarian Mrs. LaLima to Retire


Sheila LaLima

Jenna Miller, Editor in Chief

After 30 years as a librarian and research teacher at Wantagh High School, Mrs. LaLima has announced her retirement. Her introduction to the district took place one sunny summer afternoon in 1990 when she sat on a yellow school bus with a couple of fellow newbies, Mrs. Calosso and Mr. Ruane, touring the local landmarks. Then as now, she was struck by what a close-knit community Wantagh is.

Mrs. LaLima’s life has always revolved around books and readers. After college, she worked in Manhattan for a publishing company and a literary agency. A part-time job at the Hicksville Library while her children were toddlers led to a graduate degree in Library Science.Student teaching in an elementary school library taught me two things: this was what I was meant to do, but teenagers were the ones I was truly excited about doing it with,” she said. She began teaching in Wantagh the day her younger child started first grade.

“Sheila LaLima has been the force behind the success of our library,” said WHS Principal Mrs. Breivogel. “She has transformed the space into not only a critical resource and technology hub where our students enjoy research, but she also created an inviting space where they meet to collaborate and engage in academic research and projects. We thank Sheila for her dedication and service to the Wantagh High School library. She will certainly be missed. We wish her all the best in her retirement.”

A volunteer guide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 2010, some of Mrs. LaLima’s fondest memories include field trips with art, history, and world language classes where she wasso proud of the Wantagh studentsknowledge, insights and enthusiasm.” And she was delighted to reconnect with her favorite 2nd grader from a year spent at Forest Lake when Mrs. Bewick returned to the High School to teach English.

When asked what her favorite thing about the Wantagh community is, she responded: “The pervasive culture of kindness. Over the years, people have come to the library for all sorts of reasons. I love that, in Wantagh High School, their feelings are always met with respect and empathy.”

Mrs. LaLima would like to extend her deepest thanks to Mrs. Hampson, Ms. Dispenza and Mr. Mally for teaching me so much in the courses they kindly allowed me to audit; to Mrs. Turner and Mrs. Nieves for the laughter-filled conversations about books, movies and plays; to Mrs. Ostrow and Mrs. Ryan for the fascinating talks about every subject under the sun; to Ms. Jones and Ms. Pepe for letting me share my love of art history with their wonderful AP Euro classes; to Mrs. Magnuson, Mrs. Lopera and Ms. Flynn for bringing their wit and wisdom to the library; and, of course, to Mrs. Berg for her friendship and dedication.”

“Sheila LaLaima has been an incredible resource for teachers and students alike throughout her tenure at Wantagh High School,” said one of her book-movie-play buddies, English teacher Mrs. Nieves. “She is one of the most interesting people to talk to since she is so generous sharing her passion and knowledge about the arts, whether it is the latest Broadway show or an upcoming exhibit at the Met. She is the epitome of a 21st century Renaissance woman who will be sorely missed.”

She is going to miss spending each day surrounded by remarkable people and, of course, by thousands of books. In the immortal words of Mr. Dubin, Are these arranged in any particular order?’”