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The Rotary Club of White Plains is Club 5043, District 7230, Zone 32, Region USCB, Federal tax ID 13-6111471.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 1712, White Plains NY 10602.

Our "Foundation of the Rotary Club of White Plains" is tax exempt, New York State #219346, tax ID 13-6165380.

Website created August 2001.

The Rotary Club of White Plains was chartered October 1, 1919, charter number 540.
 

Teaching All Ages:
A Life Dedicated to Helping Others Learn

By JULI S. CHARKES
Published: December 30, 2007

White Plains

ANDREW L. MORZELLO, 69, sat in the rectory of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church here, where he has been a member since childhood, and reflected on a life of teaching. He recalled how, as a young instructor at Highlands Junior High School, he was called into the principal’s office and told he would not be returning the following year.

“I was stunned,” he said. “I just remember thinking, What have I done?”

What he had done was distinguish himself as an exemplary teacher, so much so that the principal nominated him for a Rotary Club scholarship to the University of the Philippines.

For a year, he taught teachers in the northern province of the island of Luzon how to improve their skills, while immersing himself in their culture. “This was 1963, an interesting time to be abroad, so I tried to undo that image of the ‘ugly American,’” he said. “Because I was teaching world history back home, it was also an excellent experience to bring back into the classroom when I returned to White Plains.”

Return he did, spending the next four decades in a classroom in town, first at Highlands, then at White Plains High School, where he taught world history and remedial reading for three years before becoming a guidance counselor for a year.

Mr. Morzello was also the director of Adult, Continuing and Alternative Education in the White Plains school system for 19 years. On Dec. 7, the county recognized his efforts, inducting him into the Westchester Senior Hall of Fame.

“People like Mr. Morzello are a beacon to others of all ages,” said the county’s commissioner of social services, Mae Carpenter.

To Mr. Morzello, education begins long before students enter a classroom. “Your parents are your first teachers,” he said at the awards ceremony. His grandparents emigrated from Moiano, Italy, settling in Hazleton, Pa., at the turn of the 20th century. After the 1917 influenza epidemic claimed the life of his grandfather, the family moved to Westchester, where a cousin was a priest at Mount Carmel. Mr. Morzello’s grandmother became the cook at the church, feeding the clergy as well as her six children. Two generations later, Mr. Morzello continues his family’s service to the parish by volunteering as the church’s director of educational services.

“You will never meet anyone more loyal,” said the Rev. Albert Azrak of Mount Carmel.

Mr. Morzello is quick to point out that loyalty runs both ways. While a student at Fordham, he needed help understanding Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” and turned to a priest at Mount Carmel. “I used to come down from my house on Fisher Avenue every night and study Kant with him at the same kitchen table where my grandmother prepared meals,” he said. “If not for his help, I don’t know if I would have passed.”

Some 50 years later, Mr. Morzello still believes in the importance of helping others learn. “You never know who’s going to be touched and the impact it can have,” he said.

That was made clear at the awards luncheon. Surrounded by friends and family, including his wife, Marianne; his daughter, Maria; and his 9-month-old granddaughter, Alexandra, Mr. Morzello quoted Booker T. Washington: “Recognition is sweetest when it comes from your friends,” he said.

Only later did he learn that seated among the guests was Washington’s great-granddaughter, Edith Washington Charles, 60, of Mount Vernon. In a phone interview last week, Ms. Washington said she was touched by Mr. Morzello’s words, since “keeping my great-grandfather’s name alive is very important to me.”

Days later, he was still marveling at the coincidence. “That was something special,” he said.

 


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