The Board of Trustees and Superintendent Frank Gargiulo renamed the Hudson County School of Technology’s (HCST) gymnasium as the Joseph A. Mantineo Fitness Center, which was unveiled on October 1, 2014: nearly three years after Mantineo’s death.
By Katherine Guest/Hudson County View
“When this thought was just a little thought at a board meeting, it was discussed among board members and the superintendent—there was not even a second of delay in anyone’s actions to name the [Fitness Center] after Joe,” said Anthony Vainieri, Democratic Freeholder nominee (D-8).
Joseph A. Mantineo was a school administrator with the HCST where he served as the President of the teacher’s union, and was also a former commissioner of the West New York Housing Authority, passed away on August 5, 2011 at 74 years old.
“It’s a privilege to be part of a ceremony like this. Where we recognize the life of Joe Mantineo, and commemorate his legacy,” said West New York Mayor Felix Roque.
In 1975, Mantineo was an electronics teacher at what was known as Hudson County Vocational Technical School, after his service in the U.S. military. The vocational school transitioned through the growth of the community, explained Mantineo’s son, Joseph Mantineo, Jr.
After, family, friends and colleagues gathered together in unison to commemorate the significance of his tenure, Gargiulo spoke about the cultural impact of Mantineo’s influences on the generations of students and faculty members.
“Joe was the kind of guy that I met every morning, usually around 9 o’clock. If he was there 10 [minutes] to 9am, there was trouble, and it was usually to negotiate something: Well, we only shot him in the leg, can we negotiate it?”
Gargiulo continued, “Everything we did was [based off of] student impact. If it had a negative impact on the students, we didn’t do it period, and it worked. It worked for him and all the people he represented and it definitely worked for the school. Joe emphasized culture in the school which is the most important factor practiced today in the educational system of HCST.”
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) represented an Assembly and Senate joint resolution in commendment of Mantineo’s educational skills, and conscious legislation effecting teachers engagement at HCST.
Even after dedicating almost seven days a week of his life to HCST, Mantineo still requested an hour of North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco’s time for a tennis free-for-all game.
“I met Joe in West New York, but I didn’t really get to know him until I came down here and he needed a tennis partner. I told him I didn’t know how to swing a tennis racket, and he taught me how to play tennis. I learned how to play tennis badly, but he and I had no rules, it was a work-out,” said Mayor Sacco.
Outside of the tennis court yard, Mantineo was consecutively reelected by a vote of confidence by being a known mediator who knew how to resolve problems effectively.
“Joe was the best trouble shooter I’ve ever met. He was the Union President here, year after year—re-elected year after year – and yet he represented every faction in the building so it wasn’t that there was [a limitation] between staff members, administrators or teachers, and clerks.
“He had to represent everybody, everybody walked away satisfied which I found most amazing,” said Sacco.