Remembering Miss Pretti
I just heard that Miss Virginia Pretti passed away on Friday.
As the Head of the St. Mary’s Lower School, Miss Pretti showed each of us that women in powerful positions could be both extremely capable and universally beloved. Miss Pretti was the kind of woman whose strong mind kept her from suffering fools and whose compassionate heart allowed her to foster long-lasting connections with each of her students. For me, she was the ultimate source of authority. If Miss Pretti said it, it was immediately both truth and law.
To show you how completely I trusted her, I’ll share with you one of my favorite Lower School stories:
Miss Pretti was calling up that month’s birthday girls to the front of the chapel so that she could present each of them with their birthday pencils (I realize that this practice is #SoStMarys – but I have to say that it was always the highlight of the chapel service!). At some point during the birthday pencil presentation, one of the girls asked Miss Pretti how old she was that year. Miss Pretti smiled and responded, “I’m as old as dirt.”
I kid you not … I repeated her answer back to someone YEARS later.
My friend: “Huh, I wonder how old Miss Pretti is…”
Me: “Well, she told us that she was as old as dirt. So, how old is dirt?”
When I look back on the years that I spent in the St. Mary’s Lower School, I remember wonderful, creative, and engaging teachers, and in the background of those memories, I remember Miss Pretti who, while she never taught a class, filled the school with her spirit.
Zichronah L’vrachah. May her memory be for a blessing.