Name: Joanne Palisi
Occupation: Business Teacher, retired; Adj. Prof. @SCCC, College Seminar
Fiance’: Rick Elliott
Kids: Leanne & Brianna (27) & Nick (my new Son-in-Law)
Happy Saturday everyone! All week I was thinking about what to write on my first day as Warrior of the Week. Well, here it goes…
I grew up in Islip Terrace, NY. My parents were young when they married and 9 months later a bouncing baby girl!!! 14 months later, another bouncing baby girl. They bought a new house for $1,500 just before I was born. My mom said that was a lot of money!! My grandparents also bought a new house just next to us, which was great for my mom. Dad left us when I was two. My sister and I were very fortunate to have our grandparents, both sides. It was fun growing up in our neighborhood. We played all day. My grandparents had the best back yard. They had the pool, swings, monkey bars, play house, they even set up a roller coaster! My mom worked and Grandma watched us. She took us to the ocean once a week. We took the ferry to Atlantique or she took us to Heckscher. She kept us very busy during the summers.
I went to East Islip HS. It was a time of recession, war, hippies, love, peace. There were no jobs for teenagers. I relied on babysitting for money. It was a time when we were protesting the Vietnam war. I remember participating in a “sit in” in 9th grade. We all just went to the front lobby of the school and sat there! We really thought we were cool and could stop a war! Then the principal and staff came and started dragging people by the legs to the office. I was like, I’m out of here!! If my mom found out I was dragged by the principal, I would not see the light of day!!! I ran to one of my teacher’s rooms and found asylum.
My mom remarried when I was 14. Things were going well for us. Then mom got sick. She had a tumor on her thyroid and had surgery. She got through that, had chemo, and things were ok again. A few years later, her cancer returned. This time it was in her stomach. I had already graduated from SUNY Farmingdale, working on and off. I was my mom’s main caretaker for the last couple of years. I was trained by the nurses at Sloan Kettering to administer her medicine, care for her incision, and to keep her comfortable. I was 23 when she left us.
I always wanted to be a teacher. I put that off because at the time, my priorities were my family. Just before my mom passed, she encouraged me to be the teacher that I wanted to be. I registered that next week and told my mom I was in. She was very pleased. I went to Hofstra for my bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, Business.
I taught for 35 years, my last 22 years was at Bridgehampton UFSD. I loved going to work every day. I loved the community and my students. During the last five years, I had my student’s children in my classroom. It was such a gratifying feeling.
The best part of my life was becoming a mother. I married when I was 32, yes, a late bloomer. I became pregnant about four months later. Totally surprised to be carrying twins. Such an incredible blessing. In June, I held in my arms the most precious, beautiful baby girls. Divorced 5 years later…
We moved to Eastport for a brand new life. It was just me and the girls and life was good. They excelled in everything they did, I was a proud momma!! They went off to college and I missed them terribly. Ok, so I struggled with my weight, ups and downs. My doctor sent me to a cardiologist and they found a murmur. Not a big deal he said, but if I didn’t lose 50 lbs., I was going to die!! OMG, he scared me! All I could think about was my girls. I joined Weight Watchers and went to the gym. One year later, I was down 94 lbs. A brand new me. At WW, I met some incredible people. This one man and his daughter always talked about triathlons. I asked them how they practiced swimming. I figured, I ran on the treadmill for about a quick minute, did a spin class, but didn’t know where to go to swim. They told me about Team Total Training at St. Joe’s pool and I was to see Steve Tarpinian. That was when I started my triathlon quest. I met my coach, Laura Hartman. Mr. Awesome Corey Roberts was also one of the TTT coaches. It was a new experience that has changed my life. That summer I signed up for GLIRC’s Run Start program that introduced me to proper running techniques under the direction of Debbie Blair, Bob Cook, and Ed Melnick. I had the best of the best with both disciplines.
My love for motorcycles brought me to On the Road Again school for lessons, where I got my license and soon after bought my first motorcycle. Another, had to do thing on my list. My girls came home from college with a changed momma. They pursued their careers and I retired.
Two and a half years ago I met my one true love, Rick. We met for a motorcycle ride and he joined me in my triathlon quest. We enjoy training together, riding our motorcycles, and just being together. This past Christmas he proposed, and we look forward to exploring each new evolution together, wherever it may bring us.