When Carmen Fariña walked out of the education department headquarters on Friday, it marked the end of a half-century-long career dedicated to New York City schools.

In a short and sweet send-off in the stately rotunda of the Tweed Courthouse, Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed it Carmen Fariña day and handed her a thick bouquet of purple flowers. In about 10 minutes, her career as a teacher, principal, superintendent and chancellor was brought to a subdued end.

On the day she retired, Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed it Carmen Fariña Day.
PHOTO CREDIT: Christina Veiga

“It’s really been a privilege, and it’s something that I really have enjoyed doing. It’s a pleasure to leave and start another phase in my life,” she said. “I really want New Yorkers to know that there is no better job in the system than being a teacher and an educator. Now I’m going to spend more time with my grandchildren and my husband.”

A few dozen city employees lined the hallway outside her office to bid the retiring chancellor farewell after four years at the helm of the country’s largest school system. They held printed signs that said thank you and briefly chanted her name.

Though her desk was cleared out, Fariña appeared to be working until the last moment: As she slowly made her way through the crowd, Fariña recognized one employee, stopping to say that she had left her a message.

The chancellor’s Chief of Staff, Ursulina Ramirez, lingered in Carmen Fariña’s empty office after the chancellor left the education department headquarters.
PHOTO CREDIT: Christina Veiga

She paused only one other time on her way out: to say that her grandson would be getting a hamster to celebrate his birthday, and he decided to call it “Chance” — short for chancellor.

Then she stepped out into the light rain with de Blasio hoisting an umbrella to cover them both. She slipped into a waiting black car and largely ignored questions tossed at her from a group of waiting reporters. On Monday, Richard Carranza, the former superintendent of Houston, will take over her post. 

“Amazing, amazing job. She’s got a lot to be proud of,” de Blasio said as the car drove off.  

Carmen Fariña rode off in a black car on the day she retired.
PHOTO CREDIT: Christina Veiga