Written By: Sophia Ortiz-Heaney
Is that a bird? Is that a plane? Or is that Mr. DiRenno, emerging from a hallway, with a smile on his face and a Diet Mountain Dew in his hand?
Fort DiRenno has been at Port Chester since 1991—that’s over 32 years gracing our hallways with his infectious smile and students’ lives with a helping hand. Whether a student has had Mr. DiRenno as their assistant principal or just knows him from being around, there is one thing that is clear—he loves to be here.
But what else is there about him? How did he end up in our humble town? Why does he stay? And who is he outside our town? Well, here is your brief guide to Mr. DiRenno – our favorite classic Italian-American foodie, automobile fanatic, sloth lover, and caretaker.
Mr. DiRenno is an Italian American from Ossining, New York. He is a loving husband and father, and is a devoted Catholic. Some of his favorite out of school hobbies include automobiles, shooting ranges, and decorating his house with both sloths and photos of his greyhounds. If you ever visit DiRenno’s assistant principal office, you will see sloth plushies, photos, and trinkets spread across his windowsill.
Mr. DiRenno came to Port Chester back in 1991. Before then, he worked as a long term substitute teacher, and then as a dean. When Mr. DiRenno came to Port Chester, he quickly realized it was a lot like Ossining, where he grew up. He quickly fell in love with the PC community. When offered the assistant principal position at another school system, he refused. “This is my home away from home,” says Mr. DiRenno. Ever since then, he has decided to stay.
When I tried to ask Mr. DiRenno what job he would have now if it wasn’t an assistant principal position, he said, “This job. I can’t think of anything else best fit for me. I’ve had a lot, a lot of fun”. He attributes this to a great team of administrators and faculty, but mostly the community cultured between himself and the students at PCHS. Most other college students, he told me, don’t ever go back to their high schools. “Yet, how many past students do I have coming back?” Apparently, quite a few.
One of his favorite memories was an instant of this distinct school pride. “I had a kid, a Dominican kid, two years ago, a football player. His English was not the best, and he looked at me and I forgot what we were talking about and he looked at me and pointed at himself and goes, ‘I’m a Ram’. I think that some of my fondest memories are of kids who have expressed to me, ‘I belong here. This is my school.’”
Although Mr. DiRenno loves his current job, his runner-up job would be to stay as a social studies teacher. “There are so many ideas I could run with students. We would have arguments, discussions and learning that felt impactful on a society level. I loved that part of the job.”
Mr. DiRenno loves to be able to connect with students. He doesn’t like to baby students, as we are all on the path to becoming adults. He says his favorite part of the job is when he can grow to respect students. “Respect is the second highest form of appreciation. What have you done to earn my respect? What have you done that I appreciate that much. When I see a student fix something, academics, attendance, I don’t care, athletics, I respect that. That’s what I enjoy about this job. Being able to offer a student my respect.”
Mr. DiRenno likes to say that every student here are his adopted kids: “I have over 30 years of adopted children. And now, some of my adopted children have children of their own.” No matter what year or how well a student might know him, Mr. DiRenno cares for them like his own kids. If a student ever needs help or just want to talk or have a laugh, Mr. DiRenno is there, in his office.
Below is a short Q&A with Mr. DiRenno for those interested in his interests outside of the high school walls, along with “Two truths and a lie.” Can you spot the lie?
Quick Q & A with Mr. DiRenno:
Favorite place to get food in Port Chester?
Hubas—now called Texas Chili (36 Broad St)
Only pick one —sloths or greyhounds?
Le Mans (1971)
Favorite TV show?
Battle for the Bundew
Diet Mountain Dew
Favorite weird food combo?
Cold pizza in the morning for breakfast
Favorite Place you’ve traveled to?
Simeone Car Museum in Philadelphia
Most proud of?
Having a part to play in the lives of so many kids
Favorite thing about yourself?
Two Truths and a Lie about Mr. DiRenno (PCHS edition):
- I used to have my office in room 138
- I was the advisor to the GSA
- I used to teach Social Studies here
Good luck guessing his lie! Stop by Mr. DiRenno’s office to tell him your guess and see for yourself!