Warwick schools honor new tenured teachers

Warwick. The Warwick Valley School District admininistrators formally recognized all the teachers who have recently been granted tenure in the district, from the elementary up until the high school level. The district also has been planning for the summer.

| 09 Jun 2021 | 09:49

    The Warwick Valley Central School District on June 3 announced the teachers approved for tenure across the district, at its regular meeting last Thursday, June 3.

    WV Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach introduced the principals who nominated educators at their respective schools, saying that these teachers “intellectually engage the students...They do a fantastic job.”

    Bill Biniaris, Park Avenue Principal, recognized Scott Sibilla, Media Specialist, was instrumental in facilitating the training and support of new instructional aides, which helped get K-2 students back into school as they transitioned from remote learning.

    Biniaris said that Sibilla helped “cultivate a positive school culture,” and that the teacher “continues to embrace and support balanced literacy.”

    In addition to his regular teaching duties, Sibilla has been a judge during the science fair. Biniaris added that he’s “positive that [Sibilla will] prove to be a valuable asset” for years to come.

    Sanfordville Principal Johnna Maraia commended IT facilitator Brittni Aberasturi, proclaiming her a “true asset to Sanfordville,” especially with regard to tech, pointing out that Aberasturi was “a lifesaver” during the remote learning period of the pandemic.

    Maraia continued: “She is willing to help her colleagues and staff,” and “continually problem-solved technical issues for staff and (school) families: She’s flexible...[she] facilitates lessons aligned with STEM programs,” and is “an amazing resource.”

    Meghan Benstetter, a Special Education teacher, has “skillfully created a caring and supportive learning environment which meets the needs of every student in her class...She has a calm demeanor and positive attitude” which makes her students feel safe and supported.

    Her colleague and fellow Special Ed teacher, Errin Boyle, was also recognized for having “done a fine job implementing Readers and Writers Workshop...[she] sets high expectations and encourages each student to do their best. Her pleasant attitude creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere,” Maraia added.

    Next was PIE teacher, Taylyn Carter, completing her fourth year in the program: “She has demonstrated flexibility...[and] grown as a leader. Carter teaches PIE 1/2 and 3/4, and has helped produce drama productions and coached girls’ modified soccer.

    Fellow PIE 1/2 teacher Lauren Hughes “embraced the philosophy of PIE cornerstones...[and] has established a wonderful partnership with her PIE families...” Hughes has also served as student leadership advisor,” and has “made great connections with student leaders,” as well as helping to facilitate “great activities and community projects.”

    Kindergarten teacher Rebekah Jackson “demonstrates a deep knowledge” of Readers and Writers Workshop: she assesses her students...[and] tailors their program to each of them.”

    Maraia continued that Jackson is “’infamous’ for her parent communication...she sets the bar very high...her students love her mindfulness activities that she...integrates” into her class every day.

    At the middle school, Principal Giorgianna Diopoulos paid tribute to Literacy Specialist Breanna Angeloni: “She is exceptional. She has a way of connecting with her students, regardless of their age group.”

    “She is an expert in her field..[she] very quickly gained the respect of all her colleagues.” Diopoulos noted that Angeloni helped bring math literacy into the classroom. “We are delighted to have her in the district.”

    Fifth grade teacher Steven Garby joined the district last year, and has gained “a reputation as a quiet but firm educator,” Diopoulos said. But he also “incorporated a ton of different techniques...for students to fulfill [developing] their executive functions and skills so that they’re ready for seventh grade.”

    The principal added that she was “shocked” to see Mr. Garby “rock out” with the Guitar Club last year: “He’s a wonderful addition to the middle school family.”

    At the high school, Principal Marguerite Fusco commended Gina Buffardi, remarking on her change of specialty: “Hope you’re not having a déjà vu, because she was tenured in Special Ed math a few years ago, but switched over to Physics.”

    “Her true passion is Physics. Since she’s been teaching [it,] enrollment has gone up in Physics...Her labs are really creative.”

    Buffardi is also “Senior Class advisor, which is quite a job, running the prom and all these activities, especially in these times.”

    “She’s so involved. You always see her after school: sometimes I think that she has a secret little bedroom there. [I] always see her working with kids.”

    Regarding Elissa Slawinski, ninth- and 11th-grade ELA teacher, Fusco had this to say: “You’ll never see the same thing twice when you go in her room. She has such a variety of teaching strategies, and they’re awesome.”

    Fusco recalled one such moment that gave her a brief scare at the time.

    One of Slawinski’s activities had students writing on their desks. Not to worry, though: Slawinski removed the marks “with a wipie” at the end of the period. “Kids felt like they were doing graffiti...they were so into the lesson.”

    Cosmetology teacher, Kathleen Vitella, established the course that’s been in the district for four years: “She piloted the program and she’s taken it to great lengths...We have the highest enrollment next year,” Fusco said.

    Fusco gave particularly high marks for Vitella’s contributions to the high school’s drama and video productions, and added that the teacher provided hair styling for her before last year’s videotaped graduation ceremony.

    Also, since the Wildcuts Salon has not been open to the public during the pandemic, Fusco said that “a lot of staff has volunteered” to be the students’ models: “I have to say – our staff is looking good lately...everyone’s hair is perfect and perfectly dyed.”

    Ruth Trovato, French 3, 2, and Honors teacher, was recognized, both for her creatively-decorated classroom and her ability to convey the French language:

    “Every day is something new...it’s vibrant and colorful...her classroom is absolutely beautiful,” Fusco said.

    Connecting Trovato’s stints directing the Sanfordville play, Fusco observed: “She’s a bit of an actress...she acts out everything in her room. I don’t know a lick of French, but when I go in her room, I feel like I speak it...because of the way she acts everything out. She’s awesome.”

    Video production teacher Dan Ciccone “piloted the program and he’s doing a great job.” Fusco touted Ciccone’s work on commercials in the community, as well as his coverage of local special events. She added that Ciccone recorded many athletic events of the past season, “when we weren’t allowed fans.”

    Fusco acknowledged Ciccone’s impact, in that many of his students have gone on to pursue careers in film.

    Summer school planning

    Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum James Yap informed the school board that the administration sent out a survey to 124 families who “shar[e] some interest” in K-8 enrichment for ELA, Math, and one Encore.

    Yap added that there will be resources for grades 9 – 12 for “[course] credit recovery.”

    Both a letter and a registration link were sent to interested families.