Sal Cammarata’s days of walking the halls of the Garfield Elementary School as its principal may have come to an end this year, but he’s not ready for the grandpa hammock just yet.
In fact, while his days in the teaching world might be done, the popular principal said that his days in the education world are far from over.
“I am retiring from the Garfield, but I’m not leaving the education world,” he said. “I recently earned my doctorate from Cambridge College and I hope to apply some of those skills that I’ve developed in that program. I’m thinking of possibly teaching at the college level…There also may be chances for me to teach or inspire future administrators within other organizations.”
He said that after nearly two decades at the Garfield, it wasn’t possible to kick back and head out to pasture.
“I want to stay in the education field,” he said. “Sixteen years as an administrator at the Garfield was very challenging, but very rewarding. This is a very challenged building with significant special education and English language learners and a lot of challenged and needy families. I’m very proud of the work done in this building, particularly in the last five years. I want to go forward doing the same high level of activity. I can’t just go from the Garfield to a hammock.”
Cammarata officially retired from the Garfield and the Revere school system on July 1, but he has dropped by throughout the summer to help the transition with new principal, Patricia DiGregorio,
The end of his Revere career marks the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.Cammarata grew up in Revere near Park Avenue, the son of Vincent and the late Lucy Cammarata. He had two brothers and one sister and lived the Revere life.
He attended now defunct schools like the Max Auchenbach and the Barrows School for elementary, while going to junior high at the McKinley School.
However, it was while he was at Revere High School (RHS) that he found his calling as an educator.
“I was a junior at RHS and got involved in an after-school tutoring program and I felt I really enjoyed it – teaching others and helping others,” he said. “It struck a chord with me…I had some challenging self-esteem issues and when I got to that point in high school, working in that program, I felt very good about myself.”
Cammarata earned a Bachelor’s Degree and two master’s degrees from Salem State, returning to Revere to teach sixth grade at the Paul Revere School in 1975.
However, after eight years there, he was laid off due to Proposition 2 1/2 cuts – something that happened to many Revere teachers in that generation.
After spending two years at a private software company, Cammarata said he still remembers the day that he was called back to Revere Schools.
“I was devastated when they laid me off and I felt I would never get back,” he said. “I’ll never forget the day [they] called me at the software company. I didn’t think I’d ever be re-hired.”
Upon return, Cammarata took on the role of a guidance counselor and grant writer. He was responsible for getting millions of dollars in funding for the Revere schools in that position, but he also gained valuable administrative experience.
He was promoted to an assistant principal position at the Garfield in the 1990s, where he served with former RHS Principal Scott Lumsden and current Deputy Superintendent Ann Marie Costa.
When both of those administrators left for higher posts, Cammarata served as an interim principal for about six months – which he said built up his confidence and allowed him to officially take on the position in June 1998.
“It was a little baptism by fire,” he said, “but it allowed me to have time to experience the role without having the accountability yet.”
Cammarata described his leadership style as one that was “absolutely collaborative” and set teachers up for successes.
The sheer number of administrators that came up under Cammarata and have now moved on to their own high posts evidences that. Those educators include David DeRuosi (former RHS principal), Liz Anton (McKinley Principal), Rosanna Repucci (Lincoln Principal), and Pat Massa (Garfield Middle School principal).
And when it comes to students, he said he treasures the successes of all of them, but one in particular.
“The experience that means the most to me is the success of a very medically involved student, Carolina Martinez,” he said. “She started out with us very young and I have been here the whole time she has. That’s a huge success story.”
He also said that he is very proud of the MCAS successes that the Garfield has displayed over the last few years, becoming one of the best success stories in the district.
“There are a lot of challenging issues here that could be barriers and we’ve overcome those,” he said. “We’ve made great progress through the years on the MCAS.”