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Riverview alumni return as staff

Patrick Hoang ‘24


Many notable faculty members at Riverview High were in fact once proud Ram students themselves. In all, 34 staff members were once walking the halls as students. All chose campus activities at the time that would later translate into their full-time career. Some participated in sports, while others worked on the Tartan yearbook or the Ram Page newspaper. When students today consider the value of being part of a school organization or club, it is very interesting to know that many of their teachers forged a career path just by simply joining a club during high school.

The language arts department has more of its graduates returning than any of the other departments have. Take Deb Bryan for instance. Just as she was interested in activities like drama and speech and debate, Bryan returned to Riverview to teach senior English and Speech and Debate. Alex Catena, who was a journalism student at Riverview, went on to teach Pre-IB English 1 and produce the school Instagram page. Brianne Taber, also a former journalism student, then worked on the Tartan staff before taking on an internship at the Herald-Tribune her senior year. Pat Bliss attended Riverview from 1970-73, and during that time, she served as the features editor of the Ram Page. It was that experience that led her back to teaching, and she achieved her dream of advising the Ram Page. She has continued in that capacity for 41 years.

“The school has been in existence long enough that I have taught many of the teachers on this grads-turned-teacher list. I taught Es Swihart, Brianne Taber, Jason and Josh Mocherman, and Tom Scarpinato,” Bliss said.

Other language arts teachers currently on the faculty include Stefanie Cohen, Savannah Rowe Cohen, Jewel DeMarco,Amy Earl and Aimee Walker. DeMarco, Earl, and Walker all belonged to the Kiltie Band.

While Jessica Curtis is a world language teacher and department chair in the World Languages department, she too was once a Kiltie. Both she and Spanish/ESOL teacher Sheila Galanis, her former student, played flute and piccolo and marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade while they were in the Kiltie Band (in 1996 and 2004, respectively).

Spanish was Curtis’ true love in high school. Most memorable to her was her trip to Spain with her teacher Jo Ivey.

“This is what sparked my interest to continue studying Spanish,” Curtis said.

Galanis was sparked to pursue teaching Spanish after she was inducted in the Spanish Honor Society during her high school days.

Math teachers who once sat in RHS student desks include Donna Cahoone, Ashley Hernandez, Travis Smith, Kathryn Dougherty, Linda Cleary and Beth Rueger. Rueger was a Senior Board secretary, and she, along with Dougherty, was a Kiltie. Cleary, Dougherty and Smith were involved in a vast array of sports, and Hernandez was a cheerleader.

Science teachers Jessica Bies, Jason Mocherman, Josh Mocherman, Michaela Stockhill and Justin Martin all became interested in the sciences after graduating from Riverview.

Maureen Finley, physics and engineering teacher and CTE department chair, decided on her career path on the third day of her junior year in her physics class taught by Chuck Evans.

“I know what I want to do with the rest of my life,” she told her mother Pat Bliss on their way home from school that day. She returned to teach physics at Riverview in 2011.

Physical Education teacher Tom Scarpinato played baseball and belonged to Key Club during high school.

Both David and Whitney Verdoni, director and assistant director of Choir, respectively, were once members of Chamber Choir at Riverview, as was Reading teacher Savannah Cohen-Rowe.

Only one member of the Social Studies department attended Riverview, and that was Marilyn Baise. APA Jay Lorenz is the only administrator who was once a Ram student. In fact, he was the Homecoming King during his senior year. His other school activities included football, track and field, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

School nurse Courtney Kennedy studied in the nursing program at Sarasota Technical College (STC) during her years as a student as Riverview.

Of particular note is school secretary Kay Shepard, who was a member of the very first graduating class for Riverview, in 1960.

Just in case numbers satisfy Ram Page readers, here are a few outstanding ones:

*Six faculty grads participated in student leadership roles through class boards and Student Council.

*Eleven faculty grads were a part of one of Riverview’s three music programs—the Kiltie Band, the chorus or the orchestra.

*Eight teachers were members of multiple honor societies when they attended Riverview.

*Twelve faculty members were part of at least one Ram athletic team.

*Seven wrote for school publications—Ram Page, Tartan and Pibroch (creative writing magazine).

So, what does all of this say? Active participation and membership in school programs and activities shapes students’ futures. These 34 staff members certainly found club, program and team activity to be a meaningful and formative part of their overall education.

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