Longtime Oakdale educator and administrator Pam Antinetti died Friday, Feb. 5 after a lengthy battle with ovarian cancer. She was 66.
She retired as principal of Magnolia Elementary School in 2003, after a long career with Oakdale schools. She was elected to the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees in 2007.
“Pam Antinetti was a dynamic educator that typified class, strength and integrity,” said OJUSD Superintendent Fred Rich.
She graduated from Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas in 1961 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. in 1965. While attending the University of Oklahoma she traveled to Vienna, Austria to study abroad for one year with the Institute of European Studies. She earned her Masters degree in Education from the University of San Francisco in 1983.
She started her career in education at Curtis Creek Elementary School in Tuolumne County in 1965. While teaching, she met her future husband Norm Antinetti in 1965. They married in December 1966 and their honeymoon was postponed until the summer of 1967 when they toured Europe for two months. Her husband often said, “Pam was the love of my life.”
In 1967, Mrs. Antinetti began teaching in the Oakdale Elementary School system with her first assignment at Cloverland Elementary School. She had stops along the way at Oakdale Junior High, Fair Oaks elementary and Magnolia elementary schools, where positions included teaching kindergarten through eighth grade. She was responsible for coordinating the Gifted and Talented Education program. She also served as a Resource Specialist and then in 1988 became the Principal of Magnolia Elementary School, a position she served in for the final 15 years of her career.
“Finding ways to help all students develop their potential was always her goal,” Rich said. “Working with others to improve programs, options, and curricula for students while implementing changes to enhance the learning and success for all students was always her guide.”
As a teacher, she received the School Bell Award, and as a principal, she was honored in 1992 with Stanislaus County’s Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators. Highlighting her tenure as the principal of Magnolia Elementary School, the school received along with the students, staff, and parents, the California Distinguished School Award from the State of California in 1995.
“Pam worked masterfully with her staff at Magnolia to provide an exemplary learning environment for all students under their care,” said Rich.
She continued in her service to the schools and the community by serving on the school district’s Board of Trustees. At the Feb. 8 regular meeting, her fellow board members remembered her.
“She was an extraordinary person,” said board President Mike Tozzi, who became choked up while he spoke. “The community is going to miss her.”
Trustee Bill Dyer said he’d known Antinetti for more than 40 years and spoke of their friendship.
“You couldn’t ask for a better person for a teacher or administrator. She was very efficient and she cared,” Dyer said.
Trustee Mike House spoke of the style and grace with which she carried herself, and noted her inspiring courage over the past several months.
OJUSD science teacher Anne Marie Bergen worked closely with Antinetti and had known her since Bergen first came to teach in the district. She credited Antinetti with inspiring her and being the reason that she’s in her position in the district.
“She was the most amazing mentor to me,” Bergen said. “…She was a door-opener for me. Her friendship and leadership allowed me to be the best teacher I could be.”
A special, perpetual science award called the Pam Antinetti Achievement Award for Science Excellence was created in 2005 to be presented annually to one high achieving student entered in the OJUSD Science Fair and carries a monetary award that was funded by Mrs. Antinetti.
Bergen said in a prior interview with The Leader that while Antinetti served as Magnolia principal, she worked to dedicate Magnolia school site funds, not district funds, to begin a science lab program for Magnolia students. At the time, Bergen taught fourth grade at Magnolia. Bergen also credited a high rate of Magnolia science fair entries to Antinetti’s influence.
“She has been such a promoter of science in this district,” said Bergen in the interview. “She saw the value of science to the students. She has influenced science and the science fair.”
Bergen recently added that Antinetti’s contributions to the district were “huge” and that Antinetti had a great impact on many people.
Mrs. Antinetti was known as being innovative, gracious and always encouraging people to do their best.
Her community affiliations include the American Association of University Women, having served two years as Co-President, California Teacher’s Association, Association of California School Administrators, California School Board Association and Pi Beta Phi Women’s Fraternity.
She is survived by her husband, Norm Antinetti; children, Amy Antinetti and David Antinetti; her mother, Carol Laird, of Bowling Green, KY; brother, David Laird of Louisville, KY; grandchildren, Dominic, Alivia and Carlo Antinetti; several nephews and cousins mostly in Kentucky and Texas; and a host of loving relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her father, Dr. A.W. Laird of Bowling Green, KY.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Oakdale. A reception will follow at the Oakdale Community Center. The burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Pam Antinetti Science Fair Award, with checks made payable to the Oakdale Joint Unified School District (make notation of the Pam Antinetti award), 168 So. Third Ave., Oakdale, CA 95361.