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Saying farewell to fellow faculty and staff

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Ballard, Donohue, Ela, and Straube stand by the rock in their final year at Trinity.

Ballard, Donohue, Ela, and Straube stand by the rock in their final year at Trinity.

As the school year comes to an end, members of the Trinity family will be departing. Students come and go every year, but teachers tend to stay much longer as vital parts of the campus atmosphere. This year, Trinity says goodbye to four members of the faculty who have worked for more than 70 years combined on campus. Mary Ann Tartaglia-Straube, David Ballard, Mary Donohue and Linell Ela leave to begin the next chapter of their lives in retirement.

Mary Ann Tartaglia Straube 

Mary Ann Tartaglia-Straube’s journey as a teacher has been a long and fruitful one, but it will be coming to an end this May. She will retire after teaching for 41 years at more schools than can be counted on one hand. In the 1970’s, she taught at a high school in New York. In the 80’s, she moved on to Marblehead High School in Massachusetts. From there, Straube was selected to be a part of the prestigious Fulbright program for exceptional teachers in England. Then Straube went on a Florida stint: Deltona High School, Winter Park High School and finally, Trinity Prep in 2005.

Throughout her 40 plus years teaching in public schools, private schools, and everywhere in between, Straube has immersed herself in different educational atmospheres that some teachers never get to experience. She noted the key differences that set Trinity apart from the other places she’s worked.

“I’ll never forget the first week I came to Trinity,” Straube said. “[I liked] the fact that students were able to have time in their day to get a drink, meet with friends, throw a ball around and relax. In public school, kids just don’t have that kind of time.”

In her ten years here, Straube has become well known for throwing extravagant celebrations for Pi Day. In class, students create artwork, music, food or any other type of creation in order to commemorate the math-related festivities. Many pieces of artwork, including pi pillows and collages, hang around her room. Straube said that she wanted her Pi Day celebrations to be a way for students to remember her.

“I just want to be remembered as someone who listened,” Straube said. “That’s why [I did] the Pi Day thing, to find out who you were outside of my classroom, to learn things that I didn’t normally know about you; if you did artwork or poetry or music. I really wanted to know who the kids were, not as students but as people.”

In addition, many of Straube’s former students will recall her affinity for the famous mathematician Albert Einstein. Posters of Einstein’s goofy facial expressions and thought-provoking quotes cover one side of her wall. Straube said that her most memorable experience at Trinity was dressing up as Einstein and confusing students and teachers alike.

“One year, I dressed up as Albert Einstein,” Straube said. “I had the tweed jacket, wig, mustache, trousers, men’s shoes, the whole thing. I walked around campus, and teachers did not know who I was. For the first half hour or hour, people had no idea who I was until I walked into my classroom.”

Straube said the thing she would remember most about Trinity was the way the school assisted her and her late husband Pete when he was battling cancer.

“One of the things I love most about Trinity is that everyone was so kind and thoughtful to me and Mr. Straube when he was sick,” Straube said. “We constantly heard from and got help from students, parents, teachers and administration. It really kept our spirits up. We both realized how lucky we were to have you all in our lives.”

After Straube retires this year, she plans to pick up photography again, something she said she wishes she had done more often. She also hopes to explore learning opportunities at Rollins College and the University of Central Florida.

“As far as retirement, I hope to give back to the people and places that have been such a help to me through the years,” Straube said. “And who knows, I may be your substitute teacher someday in the future!”

David Ballard

If you don’t know David Ballard, the 8th grade civics teacher, then you didn’t go to Trinity. Ballard has been a member of the faculty since the 1989-90 school year, boasting the third longest Trinity teaching tenure behind Dean Rhodes and Susan Speicher. To put it in perspective, some students from graduating classes in the late 80’s and early 90’s have their own children at Trinity today.

Before coming to Trinity, Ballard taught for 18 years at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Florida. He moved to the Orlando area in 1989 and never looked back. Ballard has taught multiple social studies classes, such as 7th grade Geography, 6th grade World History and 7th grade American History. He currently teaches Civics for the 8th grade. This school year is also memorable for Ballard because it marks 25 years of teaching at Trinity. His silver anniversary school year will be his last.

Ballard noted the major differences on campus from when he started, especially in the school’s buildings.

“This school has changed tremendously since I started here,” Ballard said. “We didn’t have the softball or the baseball field as you enter. We entered in what is now the practice field around the swamp. We had the old library, we didn’t have an auditorium, we had chapel and assembly in the DAC [and] didn’t have the RAC.”

Additionally, Ballard explained the difficulties for him to really get to know students, due to the increased population of the student body over time.

“The student population when I came here was under 300, so we only graduated approximately 50 to 70 kids each year,” Ballard said. “Now we graduate 120 to 130, so the student body has increased [tremendously]. I think it has been more difficult for me, teaching Middle School, to get to know everyone in Upper School.”

Like Straube, he hopes that students will remember him in a positive way.

“I would hope that [former students and faculty] would remember me as someone who cared for them, who had their interests at heart in everything they did,” Ballard said.

Ballard plans on moving to the North Carolina area with his wife in order to be closer to his family.

Mary Donohue

After wearing the hats of teacher, parent, and college counselor, Mary Donohue is ending her time at Trinity. Donohue has been a prevalent force behind the college admissions process for many students over the years. After arriving at Trinity in August of 2000, Donohue made a name for herself. That year, she was one of three college counselors on staff and taught Honors English 11. As a mother to John ‘06 and Katherine ‘04, Donohue wore many hats in her time on campus.

Donohue hopes that her legacy at Trinity will be that she was a caring person who helped empower students to find their chosen paths, whether that is in their college process, in the classroom, or just in their everyday lives. Apart from her legacy, Donohue hopes people remember how much the campus has changed over the course of a decade.

“Much about Trinity Prep – its commitment to students and their families, to academic excellence, and to fostering a caring environment for all of us – has not changed since my time at TPS,” Donohue said. “The biggest changes have been – and continue to be – the phenomenal facilities that have been opened or updated in the last 15 years: the Hughes Resource Center, the RAC, improvements all around campus and the new Middle School.”

Before Trinity, Donohue lived in places both across the US and overseas due to her husband’s military and civilian flying career. She began teaching in Virginia and went on to teach in North Carolina, Japan, and later in Texas. In Texas, Donohue worked as a newspaper journalist and in the communications department for Texas A&M University. Donohue later served as an International Baccalaureate counselor for 400 students at Wichita East High School in Kansas. Following Kansas, Donohue landed a job at Trinity Prep.

“[Wichita East High School] was the largest urban high school in Kansas, so Trinity was a big change for me,” Donohue said.

One of her favorite things about Trinity Prep are the students. Donohue said that it has been a wonderful experience working with great students, as both a counselor and a teacher.

“[The students] really make it easy to come to work each day,” Donohue said. “Their energy and enthusiasm really rub off on all of [the counselors]. Whether it’s the various advisory groups who have been my second families, the students in my junior English classes over the years, or the hundreds of Donohue college counselees, there’s always been something special about each of them.”

Donohue said she will remember the graduations of her counselees and children the most once she is officially retired.  She said that big events, such as graduation, truly represent the celebration of each student’s experience, as well as his/her next adventure in college. She also said she will miss the day-to-day interactions with her coworkers and students and being part of the school’s community. Aside from meeting Trinity Prep alumni in the most random places, Donohue will never forget the connections and bonds she formed at Trinity during her time here.

“The world is much smaller than you think, and your ties to Trinity Prep will remain important throughout your life,” Donohue said.

After retiring, Donohue said she looks forward to doing lots of traveling and visiting family with her husband.

“I have a new grandson who now lives in Minnesota, so I know we have trips planned to visit him and his parents,” Donohue said. “My daughter is also getting married this summer in California so we will be headed out there.  With family in Virginia, Rhode Island, and Texas, I know we will have trips to those places in our future. I have also had much more time for gardening and reading, and I am planning on more volunteering in the community.”

Donohue’s legacy will live on forever in the alumni, teachers, and students of Trinity Prep.
Linell Ela

As head librarian of Trinity Prep, Linell Ela does so much more than impose the library’s rules onto students and teachers. An amiable person and friend to all, Ela has seen two decades of students walk in and out of Newton Dyckman Rich Library, and she feels like it is time for her to retire. Ela was the Head Librarian at Apopka High School from 1971 to 197 before she began working at Trinity Prep in 1993. If you have not seen Ela, then you have never been in the library.

Ela shares the same principles on which the school was founded, which is one of the main reasons she took the job. She says the shared concepts of family, fairness, and commitment among the faculty and student body are one of her favorite things about Trinity. Ela also says she will remember all of the fantastic students and faculty she met at/on campus.

“In addition to the great colleagues, friends and students I have had the pleasure to meet and get to know over the years, I will remember how lucky I was to be a librarian who had the privilege of moving into two brand new libraries,” Ela said.

During her tenure as librarian, Ela was involved in many memorable and funny experiences. She remembers when she was the junior class sponsor and had to keep a sewing kit and safety pins with her at prom for assorted “wardrobe malfunctions.”

Ela hopes to be remembered at Trinity as a fair person and an avid reader, being both humorous and serious.

“In spite of my constantly reminding students that computers are not a spectator sport, I also hope that both faculty and students will remember that I introduced Noodletools for research,” Ela said.

Ela said the campus has changed a lot, in both a technological and physical standpoint, since she first came to the school.

“The extraordinary changes to the physical campus and the use of technology come to mind,” she said. “When I first arrived, we still had filmstrip and slide projectors, as well as a 16mm film projector!”

After retiring, Ela plans to travel as much as she can.

“Paraphrasing Dr.Seuss, ‘Oh! The places I want to go!’,” Ela said.

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Saying farewell to fellow faculty and staff