Retiring duo brought art, passion to CCS

Josie HovisCooperstown Central School teachers Salvatore Salvaggio and Kristin Karasek are retiring in June after more than 50 years combined at the school.

Cooperstown Central School will be losing two artistic teachers at the end of this school year. 

Salvatore Salvaggio and Kristin Karasek, members of the fine arts department at Cooperstown Central School for decades, will be retiring in June.

Salvaggio, a New York native, became the music department chairperson at Cooperstown in 1989 and has been chairperson and choir director ever since. Known as “Mr. Sal” to his students, he has also taught music theory, history of rock ’n’ roll, and guitar classes.

“In my 28 years of teaching I have tried to get as many kids involved in the arts and music as I can,” Salvaggio said.

Karasek started working at Cooperstown High in 1993, and she has taught painting and drawing, Advanced Placement 2-D design, ceramics and sculpting classes. She helped her students start and run the Cooperstown Fashion Show for more than a decade. 

“The two greatest things about teaching here are the capable and supportive faculty and the extremely talented students,” Karasek said.

Before settling in Cooperstown, Salvaggio taught in Page, Arizona, for 11 years. Karasek taught at Mount Upton, Brookfield and Utica schools in New York between 1986 and 1993.

Salvaggio is also an adjunct professor of classical guitar at the State University College at Oneonta.

“I feel that both Sal and I have been very committed to the community and to the students,” Karasek said.

She also said that she was grateful for the support from the community.

Salvaggio said he has fond memories of several highlights of his career, including the high school choir’s performance of Vivaldi’s “Gloria.” Salvaggio also has orchestrated the annual performance of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” at the high school winter concert, where he regularly invites members of the audience to come onstage and sing with the students.

Karasek said one highlight was an annual celebration for the art department each year at the Cooperstown Art Association’s High School Art Show, in which student art is on display. Karasek said that she was grateful to Janet Erway of the Art Association for helping facilitate the art show.

“I have never regretted becoming an art teacher,” Karasek said. “I have enjoyed my job, which I consider to be validating what it means to be a creative person.”

Salvaggio and Karasek said they have made plans for their retirements. Salvaggio said he plans to continue teaching at SUNY Oneonta, play music, garden and spend time with his family.

Karasek said she plans to get a two-year Canadian visa and spend time with her daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law in Montreal.

“Everyone in the community here at CCS, regardless of political or religious background, is respectful of each other’s contributions, which makes a huge difference in the workplace,” Karasek said.

Salvaggio said he had taught at Cooperstown longer than he had ever taught at any other school.

“I am so grateful for the brilliant art teachers that came before me,” Karasek said, “And I know that the district will find someone committed and quirky after I leave.”