Jeanine Cammarata was a teacher with “patience like no other,” said a former colleague and fellow UFT member, and whoever killed the 37-year-old deprived her students of that.
Celeste Cafiso, Cammarata’s co-teacher when she taught pre-K at PS 18 in the West Brighton section of Staten Island, was among those mourning the loss of Cammarata following her murder the week of March 31.
Cammarata’s charred remains were discovered in a Staten Island storage facility on April 4. Her estranged husband, Michael Cammarata, and Ayisha Egea, his girlfriend, are charged in the murder.
“Jeanine was always very calm and nonconfrontational with others,” Cafiso said. “She really wanted to please others and would always seek to apologize and forgive to seek peace.”
Cammarata, the mother of three, worked at PS 18 for four years beginning in 2014. Before that, she worked at PS 251 in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn for about eight years. This year, she was working at PS 29 in Castleton Corners on Staten Island.
“She started as a very impressionable young girl, very trusting of people and always very helpful,” said Dennis Micklin, the chapter leader at PS 251 who has worked there for 24 years. “She definitely left her mark on people.”
PS 18 Chapter Leader Dana Mahoney said pre-K was the perfect fit for Cammarata.
“Jeanine put her heart into working with her pre-K students and made them feel safe and loved,” she said. “Her laugh was infectious, and her students responded to her positively. She made it a point to friend parents to ensure their children’s first experience in school was welcoming.”
Paraprofessional Caren Childs, who worked in Cammarata’s classroom at PS 18, said her 4-foot-11 colleague was a giant to those who knew her.
“Jeanine was small in stature, but she was one of the strongest there is,” Childs said. “She was dedicated to her family and friends, and she always put her students first.”
Cammarata was in the process of divorcing Michael Cammarata, the father of her two youngest children. Her failure to attend a custody hearing on April 1 was the first indication she may have met with foul play.
“I never realized she had all this stuff going on in her life,” said PS 29 Chapter Leader Brian Stephens, the school’s music teacher, who saw Cammarata on the mornings he taught her class. “She was obviously able to separate work from her home life. She was dedicated to her students and gave them everything she had.”