Skip to main content
Your Town
Sarasota Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 5 months ago

Teachers throw 90th birthday surprise party for former Alta Vista principal

Share
Barry Napshin turns 90 on Feb. 28.
by: Whitney Elfstrom Staff Writer

Barry Napshin eats dinner at Joey D's Restaurant every Tuesday before watching NBC's "This Is Us" with his daughter, Audrey Quale.

But this week when Napshin walked through the restaurant door, 20 familiar faces yelled "Surprise!"

Napshin turns 90 on Friday, Feb. 28, and Quale wanted to honor her father, principal of Alta Vista Elementary from 1968-1995.

Teary eyed with a smile on his face, Napshin went around the room to hug and shake hands with the people who he had hired more than 30 years ago.

“You shouldn’t surprise a 90-year-old like this,” he joked.

The idea for the surprise party came to Quale two weeks ago after she bumped into Paula Lavine, a former Alta Vista teacher, in the grocery store parking lot. 

At first Lavine walked up to Quale because she thought her dog was cute, but then they realized who each other were. 

Quale mentioned that her father’s 90th birthday was coming up and Lavine said she would have to get him a card. But Quale suggested the two of them throw a surprise for the former principal instead. 

Lavine started calling all of her old colleagues and they all jumped at the chance to celebrate their old boss. 

“This man was the most wonderful principal. He created a family atmosphere and he just loved the teachers and kids at Alta Vista,” she said. “It goes to show how close educators are. We’re like a family.” 

Napshin said the family broke up after he retired in 1995 and walking into the room felt like a time machine. 

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I look around at these people who I hired as young teachers and now they have children and their children have children.”

Thinking back to his time as principal Napshin sang the praises of the people sitting around the dinner table with him.

“They were an exceptional, wonderful group of people to work with. We did wonderful work for children. I am thrilled and delighted to know them.”

I’m the Sarasota community reporter, which means I cover the people, places and things of Sarasota. I graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a degree in journalism and digital communication and a minor in English. 

See All Articles by Whitney

Related Stories

Advertisement