Niagara Gazette — “It was his idea to go to the four-day school week which we have now, and it’s been successful so far. He had good academic ideas that helped foster the improvement of Niagara Catholic.”
After having spent most of his life in school, DiFrancesco says he is feeling a little apprehensive about leaving.
“When I wake up Monday morning, it will be the first time in 61 years that I haven’t gone to school,” he said. “It’s a little bit scary, but it’s been a very good run.”
“It’s a culture shock,” said Elissa Brisolari, an English teacher at Niagara Catholic, describing how she imagined retirement might be for DiFrancesco, especially in light of his evident affection for and involvement with his students. “You know, you spend your whole life in school one way or another and then you wake up on Monday and don’t have to go, I think that would be tough on anyone, but I think he’ll adapt, he’s very active in the community. He’ll keep busy.”
DiFrancesco is heavily involved in a number of community organizations. He was on the Niagara County Youth Board from 1982 to 1998 and the Niagara County Head Start Board since 1983. He’s been president of the latter since1986.
He is involved with the Niagara Police Athletic League since 2001 and is currently the second vice president. He has been active with Niagara Cerebral Palsy for 34 years, where he was president from 1986-87, 1989-92 and in 2012. He’s also been involved in the Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State for 21 years and was president there from 1998-2002.
His community efforts earned him the honor of having the 24th Street school re-named, The Robert M. DiFrancesco Center for Early Childhood and Head Start Education.
DiFrancesco says that his volunteer work will remain a big part of his post-retirement life. He also would like to do a few projects around his house and hopes to do some traveling with his wife.