Remembering Joanna Peters by Susan Arietta

Joanna Peters. Photo: Susan Arietta

There are just no words…. Joanna faced a monster called Cancer this past year.

After Covid, she had hoped to return to the Academic Support Center (ASC), but after a few short months of her battle, she came to the realization that she wanted to spend the rest of her time with family. Her son Erik and her daughter Amanda cared for her this past year. She cherished the time with them. They are remarkable individuals, just like their mom. Joanna was a fighter, but this was a battle she was not going to win. She lost her fight on January 2, 2023.

Joanna was inspiring, and she touched the lives of everyone. After 32 years at Westchester Community College, she still loved her job. She was a consummate professional and, although she lived through so many variations and changes throughout the years, she never stopped giving her best to our profession. She always had a rational and pragmatic approach about her. When things got overwhelming, she would say, “One step at a time and one day at a time.” Hers was a calm, reassuring, and rational presence in and out of our department.

As a Coordinator, Joanna created the English as a Second Language tutorial component in the Academic Support Center. In addition, she taught for both the Reading / Study Skills and English departments. Students were drawn to Joanna’s warm and nurturing presence as she did everything possible to help them. She did this to her greatest abilities every single day. Parents too found a warm and nurturing person to hear their concerns regarding their children and their well-being. She was always patient and kindhearted.

In addition to her roles as ASC Coordinator and Professor, Joanna served on the union’s E-board, negotiating team, and scholarship committee for many years. She served under two WCCFT presidents. The time she spent serving on our union meant the world to her. It really gave her a sense of purpose, meaning, and mission. Joanna believed it was more than okay to disagree, as long as it was done fairly and respectfully. She would remind all of us to stay involved or risk losing OUR ability to be heard. And she meant this.

Joanna had an unmatchable tenacity, and this tenacity served her throughout many seasons of her life. She was an immigrant child who came to this country after her parents fled the Nazis in Poland. Her history is unimaginable and fascinating, and it is something she valued throughout her life. Her heritage had a profound impact on her life and thus on her work.

So many of us will remember and miss Joanna for so many reasons. Joanna valued her lifelong relationships with Meralee Silverman and Hope Barcus. I know she will miss her devoted tutors, who enabled her to reach so many students. Madalena, Bishara, Beth, and I will miss her laughter and love. I have no doubt that her work at the college and in our union will continue to live and breathe and, as a result, she will live on within it.

Take the long way home, my dearest, dearest friend Jo ……..XXOO