Staff Tribute: Alyssa Pantilieres

PantilierisSpecial Education Teacher

“Ms. Pantilieris worked closely with families, speaking with them in their native tongue —she spoke Spanish, Danish, and Greek. She sought additional resources and services for their children and the parents of her students were grateful for her assistance and often called her just to say hello. Former students would regularly come back to see her and let her know how they were doing.” – Shawanda Weems, a former colleague of Ms. Pantilieris at PS/MS 15 Institute of Environmental Learning in the Bronx.

For two full decades, Alyssa Pantilieris dedicated herself to students with special needs at PS/MS 15. Her deep capacity for empathy drove her to do everything she could for them, including organizing a book club for her fifth graders and tutoring after school.

Assistant Principal Jacqueline Medina-Sciarrone says, “Alyssa was an awesome, loving woman who went the extra mile for others. She touched everyone’s life by sharing everything she had and all her knowledge. Her words of encouragement still run through my mind as she was a personal friend, a sister, and a colleague.”

Recent divisiveness in politics and on social media ran so contrary to Ms. Pantilieris’s empathetic nature that she wrote a blog post imploring readers to be kinder to each other: “I don’t care whether you voted Republican or Democratic. I care way more about your actions as a person. I care that you are kind, or empathetic, or unbiased. I care that you try to do good things just because that is the way we are called to live. I care that you support people who are suffering. And likewise, I care when you are not living up to those that I find fundamentally part of being a good person.”

As her students, families, and colleagues all attest, Ms. Pantilieris lived every minute of every day by her own values. And because of her, they too strive to treat others with kindness.