By James Bastone
Byram Legend Robert Dimartino has decided that, unfortunately, this year will be his last. Junior Will Siege said he will remember him as “a powerful yet friendly person whose character fills the entire room.” Mr. Dimartino, or as he is commonly referred to by his students, Bobby D, is a mentor and foreign language teacher at the high school and I had the great honor of sitting down with him to discuss the past, present, and future.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to become a teacher?
“I majored in Italian and Spanish at Fordham. I remember being recruited by Alitalia airlines in my junior year. I started a training program at their offices on 5th Avenue. It was there that I started some real soul searching and realized that the airline industry wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it would be. Fordham offered a teaching program for their students at their Lincoln Center Campus. I decided to give it a shot. Fordham also had a partnership with LaGuardia High School, also known as The High School for the Performing Arts, where I did my student teaching. At Fordham, they would have school superintendents come in and mock interviews with the teaching candidates. It was there that I met the superintendent of the Mahopac Schools. I started teaching Italian and Spanish there when I was 22 years old. My seniors were only 4 years younger than me! It was fun and challenging at the same time. I taught there for 13 years.”
Q: Wow, how did you end up at Byram?
“In the late 1990s, Byram was deciding on whether to add Japanese or Italian. When the decision was made to offer Italian, I decided to make a move and I applied for the job. In 1998, I taught the first Italian course at HCC. Because there were so few Italian classes, I had to travel to BHHS to teach Spanish in order to be full time.”
Q: They sure made the right choice. What motivated you to retire at this point in your career?
“I decided to leave now because I’m still relatively young, healthy and eligible to retire!”
Q: What is your favorite memory from Byram?
“I would have to say that my favorite memory is having had the opportunity to take some of my students to Italy and show them my favorite pizza places, my favorite ice cream shops and my favorite coffee shops. I will also cherish the memory of a student who went to Yale and said he was learning exactly what we had covered in class. That made me feel like I had really made a difference.”
Q: What are you going to miss most about Byram?
“No doubt, I will miss all my amazing students. Even on days when I really wasn’t feeling well, they always were able to bring a smile to my face.”
Q: What are you planning on doing for the next chapter of your life?
“I’m exploring the travel industry. Travel has always been a passion for me. I’m going to start as a travel consultant and then see where that takes me.”
Q: That should be a change of a pace. What’s the most exciting thing about retirement? “Because travel is so important to me, I think what I’m most excited about is being able to travel at any time during the year- especially when school is in session and prices are lower!”
Q: That’s certainly a positive. Now there must be something that scares you about retirement?
“I’m not sure if I would call it being “scared” but I’m wondering what it will be like not to have to wake up at 5:30 am.”
Q: One last question, What do you want your legacy at Byram to be?
“I hope room 106 will always be remembered as a room where all students were welcome.”
Through his great personality and fantastic teaching ability, Mr. Dimartino has become a staple of Byram Hills, and the first day without him will feel very different. Our school is indebted for all Mr. D has done and I hope that we have given him as much as he has given us. Mr. D is a true icon of Byram Hills, and our school will never be the same without him. On behalf of the Oracle, and the entire Byram Hills family, we want to thank you and say good luck in the next chapter of your life.