$20,000 raised for Mary Jo Codey Scholarship Fund

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Scholarship Fund honored educator Mary Jo Codey at a reception held at the Montclair Country Club on June 15, raising $20,000 to implement an annual scholarship in her name.

Attendees included Mary Jo Codey’s husband, Richard Codey, former N.J. governor and current state senator; West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi and wife Sheila; Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Rutzky; WOSF trustees; Board of Education members Laura Lab, Sandra Mordecai and Mark Robertson; former Superintendent Jerry Tarnoff, assemblypersons John McKeon and Mila Jasey; and and Township Council members Victor Cirilo, Joe Krakvoviak, Susan McCartney and Jerry Guarino.

Mary Jo Codey, an educator for four decades and a special needs educator in West Orange for 15 years, retired from Gregory Elementary School on June 16. Principal Michele Thompson praised and teased Codey at the June 15 event as fellow Gregory educators cheered.

Thompson shared about Codey’s “treasure chest,” for her students and how she loved candy, presenting her with tootsie rolls and treats.

“You couldn’t meet a more loving and caring person than Mary Jo and will always love you,” Thompson said. “You will be missed.”

And Thompson was not the only person with nice things to say about the educator.

“I couldn’t hope for a better wife and friend,” Richard Codey said about his wife. “No matter what she has dealt with — mental illness, breast cancer or a coma, she always wakes up with a smile.”

Mary Jo Codey is not only an educator of 40 years or the wife of a former governor. She is a parent and mom who struggled with serious postpartum depression following the birth of her children and, after fighting through it, began the Codey Foundation in 2011 with her husband to support other women battling the illness. As she retires, she is preparing for the birth of her first grandchild.

“I could not find so many people under one roof that I love so much,” Mary Jo Codey, a member of the Mountain High School Class of 1974, said at the event. “It was a tough decision to retire, but it’s the right time.

“I had a teacher at Mountain High School who told me ‘what you do to or for your students counts.’ That teacher turned my life around.”

West Orange Scholarship Fund President Rich Rizzolo presented Mary Jo Codey with flowers and commented as he looked out on the crowd, “It’s no wonder that we have such outstanding students as I see so many staff from our wonderful West Orange schools.”

The event was organized by WOSF trustee Lisa Touzeau. Funds raised will be used to establish an annual scholarship in Mary Jo Codey’s name, to be given to a graduating West Orange High School senior.