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Andy Esposito, Class of 1966 “Do not follow where the path may lead, but go where there is no path and leave a trail.” – quotation on a plaque given to Andy Esposito by his colleagues Editor's Note: When I sent the letter to Andy Esposito inviting him to contribute to the EC Studs Terkel Project, I was saddened to learn from his wife Stephanie that Andy had died on October 13, 2004. Stephanie explained that a sudden and totally unpredicted heart attack took him from the bosom of his family. When Stephanie learned that I had known Andy during his EC years, she remarked about something important, something that I as a college professor have often thought about. In Stephanie's own words, “ As a retired educator, I often wonder the outcome of many of my students. And I think it only fitting that an institution that had a hand in providing the foundation for the many successes of its students should also share in the glory.” From Stephanie's two letters to me, I learned that after leaving Eureka College Andy distinguished himself in the field of education. His work earned him recognition from two United States presidents as well as from the Connecticut General Assembly and the Connecticut State Department of Education. As Stephanie put it, “Andy did Eureka proud.” Indeed, he did, and what follows, based on information sent to me by Stephanie, is part of the wonderful success story of Andy Esposito's life. Stephanie did not know Andy during his years at Eureka. They met at the University of Nebraska, where they were both studying for their Masters degrees, Andy in administration and Stephanie in guidance and counseling. They married and moved to Connecticut in 1970, where they lived and both worked in the Connecticut educational system for 30 years. Stephanie said that “Andy's boyish humility and keen sense of humor made him many friends and helped map out his life.” That description fits the Andy that I knew. Perhaps Joe Cirigliano, Andy's good college friend, and his Lambda Chi fraternity brothers can add their stories. About six months after moving to Willington, Connecticut, the Espositos learned that school board elections were coming up. Several neighbors asked Andy to throw his hat in the ring, but he told them no. They nominated him anyway. He never campaigned, shook a hand, kissed a baby, or made promises of pie in the sky. But he won by a landslide. Very quickly Andy became acquainted with the Willington school system and was disenchanted very early because he realized that his own two toddlers would be attending school in the system. Because of his professional educational background, the school board members highly respected his judgment, and he was nicknamed “The Hatchet Man.” When his term was up, the town had a new superintendent, new principals, and a number of new teachers, but mainly a first rate school system. At the same time Andy was also employed by the East Hartford school system. The athletic department asked him to help out with the field and track team. Being low on the totem pole, he was given the “left-footers,” who never realized that medals were given at meets. After two years his “left- footers” surpassed the varsity in medaling. Every year Andy coached he was presented with a trophy and elected “Coach of the Year” by the athletes, many of whom he never coached. Early in his career Andy's dedication and abilities were recognized, and for this reason he was assigned to research the possibilities of a little known program called “Parent's Choice.” Twice he was flown to Washington to meet with the Department of Education to discuss his progress. He was also interviewed by Gail King on public TV to promote his studies. His two books are filed in the Library of Congress and used as a reference by other states. Andy was especially dedicated to special needs children, and he set up Head Start programs that received recognition from the Department of Education in Washington, DC. Along with other educators, Andy was invited to the White House the first time by President Clinton and again by President George W. Bush to be honored for his outstanding work in setting up programs for special needs children. The award received by the town of Mansfield is known as the “Blue Ribbon” award, which is rarely given to a town twice. Andy promoted a need for change in Special Education by his published policies and local TV interviews. Upon his retirement, Andy received an Official Citation from the Connecticut General Assembly congratulating him on his years of service and outstanding commitment. The Citation was signed by the President Pro Tempore, Speaker of the House, and Secretary of State. Although Andy and Stephanie no longer lived in Connecticut after their retirement, Andy was missed by his friends, colleagues, and students. As a tribute to his excellent leadership and service, the Connecticut State Department of Education and Andy's co-workers set up a scholarship in his honor to be awarded to a deserving senior in Tolland High School, the school his children attended. Andy and Stephanie's son Andy, Jr., is a chemical engineer who has a managerial position with GAF as a product controller. Their daughter Ann Marie earned a degree in business and has an executive position with IBM. Clearly, Andy Esposito's life exemplifies the core values of excellence in learning, service, and leadership that are the very heart of the mission of Eureka College. Stephanie's words demand repeating: “Andy did Eureka proud.” .
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