Honors across the board at Sewanhaka

Jed Hendrixson
(from left) Adelphi University School of Social Work Director Carolann Daniel, Stefanie Canone, Rosemary DeGennaro, Rosemarie Daconte, Gordon McLeer, Jaime Celona, Kara Tantillo, Louis Dura, Nicholas Simone, Phillip Cabrera and Adelphi University Human Resources Manager of Training and Development A. Brian Leander. (Photos courtesy Sewanhaka Central High School District)

Dozens of awards were presented to teachers, students and the Sewanhaka Central High School District’s Board of Education Tuesday night.

There was standing room only at Sewanhaka High School for honors and presentations at a regularly scheduled board meeting Tuesday.

The board started its slew of recognitions with 11 teachers from the five district high schools, Elmont Memorial, Floral Park Memorial, H. Frank Carey, New Hyde Park Memorial and Sewanhaka, for completion of the Adelphi University Diversity Certificate Program.

The program is intended to address diversity and holistic inclusion, including race, creed, color, sexual identity and other individual differences, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Kathleen Sottile said.

Each participant completed seven, three hour classroom workshops and a capstone experience. 15 more teachers are going to be trained in the 2018-2019 school year, Sottile said.

The 11 teachers are Gordon McLeer, Jaime Celona, Kara Tantillo, Kerri-Ann Dodenhoff, Louis Dura, Nicholas Simone, Phillip Cabrera, Rosemarie Daconte, Rosemary DeGennaro, Stefanie Canone and Samara Phillip.

Following the teacher’s recognition, the board was presented with a facsimile check from

Sewanhaka Central High School District Board of Education President David Del Santo (third, left) is pictured with Floral Park head custodian Frank Hrbek (left), District Cenergistic Energy Specialist Stan Johnsen and Cenergistic Regional Vice President, Client Development Johnathan Ward (right).

Cenergistics representative of the money the district has saved as a result of the partnership. Cenergistics is a company dedicated to improving energy efficiency in K-12 schools.

“You’ve done a really excellent job,” Cenergeistic Regional Vice President Jonathan Ward said. “And I’m really excited to be here with you all.”

Sewanhaka Central High School District Chairperson of Science Regina Huffman was recognized by the board for her appointment as president of the School Administrators Association of New York State.

“That’s a very important role,” Superintendent Ralph Ferrie said. “To have Sewanhaka represented in that leadership role is really outstanding.

“I am certain that her leadership skills and commitment to providing all students with the best education possible will help empower SAANYS in their goal.”

The board also awarded students from the five high schools that were named National Merit recipients.

In total, 15 students from the district were awarded. They are Justice Vidal, Aisha Abdelhamid, Sahran Amin, Minato Fukuda, Aleena Kavanakudy, Vishwajit Sharma, Ramsha Shoaib, Sameer Khan, Amrita Shah, Gabriella DeVito, Robert Humrich, Clare Schwarzenberg, Tara Tam, Arin Budhram and Nasiba Khandaker.

Nicholas Marsh, a student at New Hyde Park Memorial and member of Boy Scouts of

New Hyde Park Memorial High School student and Eagle candidate Nicholas Marsh is pictured with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ralph Ferrie and Board of Education President David Del Santo (right).

America Troop 294, was recognized by the board for completion of his Eagle Project at the Central Administration office. March cleaned and beautified the surroundings of the flagpole and was commended by the Ferrie and the board.

“Our staff and visitors are now greeted with a beautiful display of seasonal flowers and a refurbished garden,” Ferrie said. “It is a wonderful accomplishment for a scout to become an eagle and I know it is a very prestigious accomplishment.”

The board itself was then honored in celebration of the statewide school board recognition week. District Clerk Ellie Moore read a proclamation for Gov. Andrew Cuomo naming Oct. 22-26 school board recognition week and the board was presented with gifts.

“We thank the board for their dedication and support in providing the best education possible for our 8,515 students in the district,” Ferrie said.

Board of Education President David Del Santo commended Ferrie for being awarded by the New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education as an outstanding superintendent.

“[Ferrie] was nominated by his colleagues for his leadership in the implementation and advancement in the great strides made in this district in the field of technology,” Del Santo said.

Following the awards presentations, the board received and accepted the district’s annual audit report from R.S. Abrams & Company.

Alexandria Battaglia presented the board with an unmodified opinion, an accountant’s term for the best possible result from an audit. The district showed no material weaknesses, the audit went very smooth and overall presented a healthy balance sheet, Battaglia said.

At a Jamf Nation conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, District Coordinator of Mathematics Robert Pontecorvo and District Coordinator of Classroom Instructional Technology & Student Achievement Brian Messinger presented to teachers from across the nation the district’s administering of technology not only in teaching but in examinations. Pontecorvo and Messinger’s talk was aired for the board, followed by a presentation on the district’s initiative for the widespread use of GeoGebra.

GeoGebra is a mathematics application available on iOS systems like iPhones and iPads to students in the district.

Many students in the district do not have access to expensive graphing calculators, Pontecorvo said. One statistic said that 34 percent of students in the district were economically disadvantaged.

GeoGebra eliminates the need to purchase or have access to a calculator, Pontecorvo said. GeoGebra is a free to use application available to all district students as a result of the 1:1 program, which gives every student access to their own iPad tablet for educational purposes.

Pontecorvo said he has not only noticed students using GeoGebra but that some have preferred it to calculators because “it is much more intuitive to them.”

In January, a pilot group of students will be provided the opportunity to use their iPads and GeoGebra on the math Regents as well as graphing calculators, Pontecorvo said. An exam mode setting in GeoGebra initiated by an administrator locks students out of access to WiFi, cellular data and Bluetooth.

The board unanimously passed all curriculum agenda items including ten school trips, an $11,000 professional development program and payments for various mentors, teachers and courses. The finance and operations agenda also passed unanimously, approving more than $107,000 in Student Activities Fund purchases. A transfer of funds was also approved for $234,696 from the 2017-2018 budget and $196,696 from 2018-2019.

In the public comment session, members of the districts parent-teacher associations addressed the board about the issue of school security ahead of election day.

“As you are all aware, on polling days all security systems that are mandated and voted on by each of you is null and void,” New Hyde Park Memorial High School PTSA co-President Danielle Messina said. “This is a huge problem and it needs to be fixed immediately.”

“It is safe to assume that as a parent the one thing we all have in common is to keep our children safe,” Sewanhaka, Elmont, Floral Park-Bellerose Special Education PTA Treasurer Dianna D’Amico said. “Schools are supposed to be safe havens for our children where they are free to learn without the threat of political attacks.”

“We will continue having this dialogue,” Del Santo said. “And thank you for speaking tonight.”

The board will meet again 8 p.m. Nov. 27 at Sewanhaka High School.






About the author

Jed Hendrixson

Jedidiah Hendrixson is reporter for Blank Slate Media covering New Hyde Park and the Willistons.
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