By RACHEL SCHREIBSTEIN
The entire Jericho community was extremely shocked and saddened by the passing of Assistant Principal Jeffrey Ratner, who died suddenly on May 9. Ratner was the principal of Robert Seaman Elementary School before he retired for a few years. He then returned to education in order to temporarily fill the vacant position for assistant principal at Jericho High School.
Ratner was unlike any administrator the Jericho School District has ever experienced.
Principal Joan Rosenberg knew Ratner for 25 years and called his two years at Jericho High School “a blessing.” She described him as a “unique individual,” who possessed a skill set such that he could work with “anybody, anywhere, at any level, any age.”
“He could put his arm around somebody and calm them down, but at the same time, for those who had issues and concerns, he was able to get the point across that they needed to change their ways,” Rosenberg said.
The impact Ratner left on everyone he interacted with was profound.
“No matter how long you had known Mr. Ratner, he touched your heart in a positive way,” substitute teacher Ms. Hauff said.
Fellow assistant principal, Dr. Dagoberto Artiles, who worked closely with Ratner, believes that he was a person who couldn’t help but be “genuinely good.” Artiles felt that getting to know Ratner so well in just two years’ time really spoke to the kind of man he was.
Ratner’s secretary, Laura Parmigiani, was honored to work with him, saying he’ll be “sorely missed.”
While Ratner formed strong connections with other faculty, it is safe to say that the relationships he formed with his students were second to none.
“Just knowing that there was always an administrator that cared wholeheartedly about your well-being changed my high school experience forever,” junior Luke B. said.
Something that everyone loved about Ratner was how he made every student feel important.
“Mr. Ratner would never pass me in the hallway without making me feel special by giving me a hug or even just a smile,” junior Lauren S. said. “I will never forget that.”
Many people saw Ratner as a part of their family, someone who would always give them a hug when he walked by.
“He was a second grandpa to every student in this school,” sophomore Lily W. said.
Dozens of students looked at Ratner as a role model, who worked tirelessly to help students.
Students felt they could go to Ratner if they were in trouble, needed help, a shoulder to cry on, a friend to lean on or just have a casual conversation.
“I threw a chocolate at a kid on the school bus and was sent to his office the next day,” senior Jeffrey G. said, recalling a kindergarten memory from Ratner. “Instead of yelling at me or lecturing me, he gave me a Jolly Rancher, told me to have a good day and think before I act.”
No one has ever said a bad word about Ratner. Aside from being a friend, he was a mentor, a role model and a familiar face in the hallway who brought joy to every single faculty member and student. Though we all miss him terribly, he will remain in our hearts, and his legacy at Jericho will never be forgotten.
—Rachel Schreibstein is a student at Jericho High School.