After 37 years of service at Deerfield, Mr. Richard Bonanno and Ms. Pamela Bonanno will retire to their home in New York City at the end of this academic year. The Bonannos began teaching at Deerfield in September of 1979, after moving from Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire. They were attracted to Deerfield, they say, by the comprehensive academic program, school spirit, and the faculty. Ms. Bonanno explained that year after year, she and her husband have chosen to stay, because “there was always room to do good things, whether it was teaching in the classroom or working with students in the Dean’s office.”
Fernanda Ponce ’19, one of Ms. Bonanno’s students, said, “Ms. Bonanno is always there for any student in and out of the classroom. I really appreciate the care she has for us and her hard work and dedication.”
Lucas Kim ’17, one of Mr. Bonanno’s advisees, stated, “His humor and reassuring behavior have been extremely valuable to me, and he has helped me pursue my interests and seems to understand me as a person.”
Math teacher Sean Keller ’86 recalls his time living in a Deerfield dorm with the Bonannos as hall residents. “I felt like I mattered to them,” he stated, “and they made everyone on their hall feel important.”
Mr. Keller described what it is like to have the Bonannos as colleagues now: “I’m up in the math office at some very strange hours of the day and on the weekends, and almost always one of them is up there… they always take the time to do everything the right way, not the easy way.”
Mr. Darnel Barnes, another math teacher on campus, explained that the Bonannos have been open to sharing their “wealth of knowledge about mathematics, Deerfield Academy, and life in general.” They have passed on their philosophy about how to nurture and challenge their students to fellow math teachers.
In addition to teaching, the Bonannos have contributed immensely to other aspects of the Academy. Mr. Bonanno served as the Head of Administrative and Academic Computing from 1979 to 1989, and as Dean of Faculty from 1996 to 2007. He also led the task force that designed the Koch Center, which was completed in 2007. Current Dean of Faculty Mr. John Taylor stated, “[Mr. Bonanno’s] achievements have been far-reaching and have had an impact on countless students and faculty.”
Ms. Bonanno, who is currently Chair of the Math Department, was Assistant Dean of Students from 1984 to 1988 and Dean of Students from 1988 to 1996. Mr. Taylor stated that as Dean of Students in 1989, “[Ms. Bonanno] was instrumental in helping the school successfully transition to coeducation.” Ms. Bonanno also oversaw the construction of dorms John Louis and Louis Marx, which both opened in 1998, during her time as Assistant Headmaster for School Life from 1996 to 2003.
Mr. Taylor stated, “Besides Mr. and Mrs. Boyden, I don’t think there is another couple in the history of the school that has… given so much to the Academy.” He added, “It is hard to imagine Deerfield without them.”
In the many roles they have taken on at Deerfield, Mr. Bonanno explained that he enjoyed being Dean of Faculty most, because he helped bring in “an incredible cast of faculty members.” He added that he feels he is leaving Deerfield in great hands. Ms. Bonanno stated that she has most enjoyed “being in the classroom … and working with kids.” She feels that “there are lifelong bonds between students and faculty.”
Upon retiring, Mr. and Ms. Bonanno look forward to returning to the classroom as students. Mr. Bonanno will pursue physics, and Ms. Bonanno hopes to study art and see what New York City has to offer. Though they will be in New York, the two wish to retain the close bonds they have formed with faculty, staff, and students, and hope to visit often.
In the fall, Mr. Barnes will replace Ms. Bonanno as the Chair of the Math Department, and two new math teachers will join the Deerfield community. As Department Chair, Mr. Barnes hopes to honor the Bonannos’ legacy by continuing “to challenge ourselves to improve by looking at our practices, keeping what is working well, and experimenting to find alternate methods that may be helpful.”