Stephanie Paratore is a mentor to many different people and students. She is always there for people when they need her, no matter what she is doing.

In June of 2016, Paratore was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. At the time, she was at Bishop McCort Catholic High School, where she worked as an administrative assistant in the main office, so she encountered many students, parents and other faculty members throughout her day.

One particular student she came in contact with daily was Eli Sakmar. Almost every day, he would stop in to talk to her in between classes and at the end of the day before he left. 

When Sakmar heard about her diagnosis and how she kept pushing through no matter how hard things got, he said that it was her strength that inspired him the most in anything.

“Mrs. Paratore was different from the other staff members,” Sakmar said. “She knew how to communicate, she cared about her students and listened when they needed someone. She was definitely my favorite office person.”

Another student that Paratore mentored was Destinee Grumbling, a graduate of Westmont Hilltop High School who was in the marching band with Paratore’s son, Sam.

“She was one of the few band moms that was really nice to me,” Grumbling said. “Anytime I saw her, she gave me a hug. Losing my mom was really hard, but it was nice having her.”

Robotics and COVID-19

Paratore’s strength is what inspired Grumbling the most. 

When the pandemic hit, Paratore was transferred from Bishop Mccort to Divine Mercy Catholic Academy and eventually she got a new job working as a front office receptionist for Dr. John Ridella. The women in her office are just so amazed at her and her story.

During the month of October, every Wednesday Paratore wore a breast cancer scrub top. On Oct. 9, her co-workers gave her a homemade pink and white tumbler cup with the word “Survivor” on it and a gift basket full of different pink items.

Not only is she loved by her co-workers, she is also loved by the students she encounters through WestyTek – Westmont Hilltop’s robotics team, where Paratore is the vice president of the parent boosters. She has been the vice president for the past two years.

She did it because of her kids, who were also members of the team. Sam Paratore graduated and is now a mentor for the business side.

With changes this year because of the pandemic, she still makes sure she is available for anyone – even if she can not be there in person. Nothing has been normal during COVID-19, but Paratore has tried to make circumstances as normal as possible for everyone she sees. She gives them a big warm smile and sometimes a nice compliment.

She makes everyone around her smile, which is what everyone admires about her.

Noelle Paratore is a junior at Westmont Hilltop High School.

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