Ginny Calistro visits a second grade at Mead School in Ansonia.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent
When Virginia Calistro celebrated her 90th birthday a few months ago, a group of her friends made a donation to the “Adopt A Classroom” program in her honor. Miss Ginny, as she is known to many, was the former head and soul of Cabbage Hill Nursery School, which she ran in a barn in the back of her Woodbridge home.
The idea was to find a cause that would be close to her heart, namely in early childhood education, said Karen Testone, who organized the donation. The hope was that Miss Ginny would receive a whole box full of cards for her birthday.
The way Adopt A Classroom works is that teachers can register either with an open-ended request for materials or for something very specific. Donors can go online and find classroom needs for either the community they live in or one that is close by.
For Miss Ginny’s gift it turned out to be Jessica Rogers’ second-grade class at Mead School in Ansonia, just down the road from Cabbage Hill. Miss Ginny did receive beautifully decorated birthday cards, but on top of that she received an invitation to the classroom, a visit that took place after the snow finally had melted.
She was greeted at the entrance by two student ambassadors with flowers and was escorted to the classroom, where she read several books. She found an easy connection to the children, who clearly were enamored by her charm. “I wish I could do this more often,” she said, when it came time to say good-bye. On her way out, she was greeted by the school’s assistant principal, John Coppola. He had been a summer camper at Cabbage Hill, and made it a point to meet up with Miss Ginny and shake her hand.
The gift turned out to provide more than birthday cards. “This excursion was more than a visit,” said Debbie Culligan, Calistro’s daughter. “It gave life and energy to her.”