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Four decades of devotion to schools

August 16, 2012
By Kathleen Palumbo , Town Crier correspondent

"If it's a vocation, it's not just a job," he said, adding, "Each and every child is the most precious commodity that a parent shares with you."

An Ursuline High School graduate, Dante Zambrini said he always knew he wanted to be a teacher as well as join the seminary, adding that he soon "found that there's a real vocation in public education."

Having arrived at the epiphany that would shape his future, Zambrini spent the following 36 years within the Canfield Local School District where his career began as a student teacher during the 1975-1976 school year.

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Hired in 1976, "I was 21-22 and had 18-year-old seniors in class," Zambrini recalled. Of being told by those same students years later, "You haven't changed a bit," Zambrini said his response was always "That's because I'm now the age you thought I was when I had you in class."

During one of his 11 years teaching at Canfield High School, Zambrini said the 1982-83 school year brought the opportunity to serve a temporary internship through the County Office for aspiring administrators, an opportunity for which he left Canfield.

Having acquired his superintendent's certificate, Zambrini returned to Canfield, spending 12 years teaching at Canfield Village Middle School, and in 1999, became its sixth- and seventh-grade principal.

A move to the district's central office brought appointments as director of administrative affairs, assistant superintendent, and from 2002 until his recent retirement, superintendent of Canfield Local Schools.

Happy to share his pleasure in the professional company of Joyce Brooks, Jim Brooks, and Lois Rayburn, Zambrini went on to note those he thinks of as his "great mentors:" Bill Kay, Art Massaro, and Phil Bova, whom he said he worked both under and alongside.

Speaking of the challenges in his 36-year career within the Canfield Local Schools District, Zambrini said, "In today's society, with social media, we find false information and misinformation being shared and it's damaging to the students, the parents, the staff, and to the community in general."

Case in point, Zambrini noted the struggle in trying to make residents understand that while Canfield would love to have new buildings, because of the manner in which the state bases funding, Canfield residents would have to pay 84 to 86 cents of every dollar for the construction of new school facilities as opposed to another local school district for which funding came through a 48/52 split.

"I never thought it was appropriate to ask the people to put that much debt upon themselvesbetter to maintain what you have," he said, adding, that the 2002 levy has lasted 10 years.

"What in your home hasn't been upgraded in that amount of time?"

The strength of our school district today is from those who came before us with support. "We owe it to generations past," he said.

What continues to come easily to Zambrini is his pride in the students who have come through the district under his tenure.

"We have produced doctors, contractors, HVAC drywallers, lawyers, nurses, scientists, and bus drivers," he said, calling the students' success over the 36 years "the most rewarding factor."

Asked what retirement holds for him, an only child from an otherwise large extended family, Zambrini shared that with family spread out, his career has made visiting relatives difficult in the past.

"Now I'll be able to be a more frequent flyer," he said.

His retirement now official, Zambrini is seemingly touched by the anticipation mirrored by his family, sharing that they've told him, "We've been waiting for you."



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