Although known to the Westchester Middle School community as a master language arts teacher, Roberta Plotycia came to education as a second career. In fact, she began her career in the healthcare sector, first as a research technician at Rockefeller University, where she worked in a lab. She then earned her master’s degree in public health from Columbia University before managing a clinic in the Bronx for the NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation.
Ms. Plotycia soon met her husband, and together they moved to the West Coast as newlyweds, as her husband continued his ophthalmology training. Relocating to San Diego was a major change for the lifelong New Yorker and proud Pelham resident, but Ms. Plotycia returned to the research world within the biochemistry department at The Scripps Research Institute. The couple welcomed their first son while living in California, but before long, the family of three moved back to her hometown in New York.
The family grew to five as Ms. Plotycia became a mother to three boys, and she stayed home to raise her children. “During that time, I began doing volunteer work at the Pelham School District at every level,” said Ms. Plotycia. And she certainly did it all! “I published the newsletter for the elementary school. At the high school, I was head of fundraising, helped with interviewing teachers, was PTA president, supported the guidance office, was a nominated member of the Board of Ed Citizens Committee, and a participant in the accreditation for the Pelham schools.”
As her sons grew older and after being immersed in school life for many years, Ms. Plotycia decided to pursue her long-held interest in education. She attended graduate classes at night and earned her master’s degree in education from the College of New Rochelle.
When considering where she might look to teach, Ms. Plotycia had heard about one school in particular—The Windward School. “My neighbor had gotten a job at Windward’s lower school, and my sons’ best friend went to Windward as a student. I then saw an ad in the newspaper for Windward teachers.” Ms. Plotycia smiled as she recalled thinking at the time, “Maybe I’ll be a temp,” not realizing then that she would call Windward home for the next 17 years.
In September 2005, Ms. Plotycia started her teaching career as an assistant working in eighth grade language arts with Jill Fedele. “I took to Windward’s program really quickly, and it was interesting to me that the methodology was a great fit for someone like me with a science background.” Ms. Plotycia explained that the expository writing techniques that Windward teaches are logical and highly structured, which she likened to the orderly formatting of a science report with which she was familiar. “Everything that Windward does is a research approach to education, and I have enjoyed the scientific basis to how we teach reading.”
Ms. Plotycia was recognized for her outstanding teaching in the classroom and her high level of devotion and was named the Isabel Greenbaum Stone Master Teacher Award winner in 2019. Colleague and friend Meryl Laub echoed similar sentiments and said, “Roberta relates well to students and is devoted to helping them succeed. She dug in, always giving her work a meaningful effort.”
But moreover, “I will miss this population at Windward. The teachers I work with are fantastic—everyone is incredibly bright—and this has been a stimulating environment and place to work.”
In her retirement, Ms. Plotycia plans to return to her volunteer roots. She is an avid animal lover, so she intends to dedicate time to the Bronx Zoo and the Humane Society.