Randolph High School Principal Deborah Iosso to Retire on October 1st

By Steve Sears

Randolph High School Principal, Deborah Iosso, remembers vividly the May 2020 morning when she woke up, and realized the time had come to retire from a career she loved.

“I said, ‘It’s time.’ And It wasn’t so much that it had to do with anything external or internal, but I’d done all I could do,” she explains, tears flowing. “I mean, Randolph’s been my home away from home for 43 years, more than half my life. And I feel like I have shared my soul with the entire community, and they’ve so appreciated it, and I know that, and I feel that. It was kind of like, ‘There’s something else now that I’m supposed to do. I have to move on.’”  

Her last day is September 30.

Iosso, 64, has accomplished much. But at the day’s end, it’s about caring. “I’ve had an amazing career with students and families.” 

She then, in her words, goes “all the way back.” “When I first started teaching in 1977, Special Education at that time was just being governed by any kind of federal legislation. We were pretty much on our own. So, we – a Special Education teacher from the middle school and me – kind of collaborated, we actually became roommates, and we would literally put the kids in our cars. We would take them to the Y for Special Olympics swim practice, we would take them to the grocery store to teach them how to shop. We would take them out at night to teach them how to eat in a restaurant, how to go to a movie theater – all of those life skills, before life skills training became a real thing.”

Developing relationships with students became the norm for her, and she says, “I can only hope that I gave them a fraction of what they gave me. It was just an incredible experience.” This led to Iosso becoming an area coordinator for Special Olympics. Iosso has also coached track and field, JV basketball, and was cheerleading advisor. “I had my hands in a lot of things, but it was those relationships with kids, in and out of the classroom. That’s why teachers do what they do: the relationships with kids.” 

After her second maternity leave, Iosso was placed in a brand new, multi-handicapped class in Shongum Elementary School. For Iosso, it was a fabulous experience. She spent six years there, and commenced writing a transition curriculum, a document which would aid special needs kids’ entry into the workforce or post-secondary education. From there she moved on to administration, as Assistant Director of Special Services, Vice Principal, then Vice-Principal, and thereafter Principal at Center Grove Elementary, and then for the last 11 years Principal at Randolph High School. 

Iosso, who was born and raised in Dover, received her Master’s in Education and Ed.S Education Leadership, Management and Policy both from Seton Hall University, and got her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. She fell in love with her husband, Peter, in 8th grade, and the couple married in 1983. They have two sons, Tony, 32, and Vinny, 29.

Superintendent of Schools, Jennifer Fano, offers the following tribute to Iosso. “For the past 43 years, Mrs. Iosso has served Randolph Schools in many different roles and capacities. Regardless of what position she has held, she has always been devoted to the well-being of students and staff members. Outside of our buildings, she has been a fixture at many events and has always found ways to provide additional support to our students beyond the classroom. She has left an invaluable impression on the lives of thousands of people, which is no small achievement. Even during this time of tremendous uncertainty, she rose above the challenges to help provide what was best for students. From navigating virtual instruction to coordinating two commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020, she has remained strong under what have certainly been the most trying of circumstances. Mrs. Iosso has always represented Randolph with pride, and her presence will be deeply missed.”

Iosso’s advice to a young teacher? “You need to do what’s best for kids. You know, when you get that person who sits in front of you who says, ‘I’ve always wanted to do this,’ there’s something innate about that when you walk into that classroom – and the kids sense it, too. They sense that that person in front of the room cares.”

 

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