She’s only getting better with age.
On Thursday, October 16, lifelong Dyker Heights resident and beloved St. Ephrem Elementary School teacher Madeline Scotto celebrated her 100th birthday. Scotto, who still teaches mathematics at the school she has lived across the street from for the past 97 years, is thrilled still to mold young minds, though she remains modest about her recent celebration.
“To be very honest, I never concentrated on age. It was only a year ago when everyone was saying I was close to 100 years old,” Scotto told this paper. “But I must say it wasn’t something I was aiming for. It just happened.”
Scotto, who works at the school on a part-time basis, still teaches math and prepares students for various math bees. Her desire to keep teaching comes from a love for both the subject and children.
“I really have a passion for math. I just love it and helping a child and giving some assistance to do better. It’s a case of doing your best and enjoying it,” she said. “I think a teacher has to have a passion for the subject. If you do, it’s not that difficult.”
She also has a love for the Saint Ephrem community. “We have a wonderful family in Saint Ephrem, which makes teaching much easier,” Scotto said. “It really is my second home.”
Calling it quits remains a thought that Scotto says it’s too early to entertain. “I’d be lost without (the students). When I finally retire, they’ll have to bring the kids over to me,” she joked.
The love is mutual. On Sunday, October 19, St. Ephrem celebrated her birthday with a Mass and reception, where over 40 of Scotto’s family members were in attendance, along with local dignitaries and former students.
“It was a beautiful mass with a beautiful choir. The day was most happy,” said Scotto.
“It was an amazing event. I’ve never seen anything like it and probably won’t again,” added school Principal Annamarie Bartone, who praised Scotto lavishly.
“Mrs. Scotto is an amazing woman and a born teacher. I’ve been honored to know her for 10 years as principal,” she said. “It’s amazing to watch her with kids and how they focus and listen to everything she tells them. Teaching is effortless for her. She’s such a humble woman.”
That praise was echoed by local leaders. “Madeline Scotto has proven to be a treasure that has, and continues, to make a lasting difference in the lives of so many. It is truly special to reflect on such extraordinary dedication,” said State Senator Marty Golden.
“Mrs. Scotto has shaped generations of young minds and is a matchless gift to St. Ephrem’s Elementary School and to our entire community. She is a true inspiration to us all,” added Councilmember Vincent Gentile.
Scotto is grateful for both the recognition and being able to keep teaching. “I’m happy because I’m doing something I’ve always done, maybe not as fast but God has been very good to me and I appreciate that I can keep doing this,” she said.