Prodell Educator Serves as Choral Conductor at Music Festival
Albert G. Prodell Middle School music teacher Mr. John Samonte served as a choral conductor for the Hampton Music Educators’ Association 2023 Middle School Festival. The event annually unites students in grades 6-8 from all over the south fork of Long Island for several rehearsals and a final performance of music.
Mr. Samonte was lauded for his preparation and attention to detail with the students and for choosing a repertoire that was interesting, rigorous and appropriate for students at the middle school grade level. “Mr. Samonte embodies professionalism, dedication to his craft and a high level of artistry matched only by his patience and kindness,” Brett Frederick, the association’s president, said. “Our students will surely remember their experience for many years.”
SPARK Honors for Dana Schaefer
Shoreham-Wading River High School Science Research teacher Mrs. Dana Schaefer co-wrote an abstract with another teacher from Brookhaven National Laboratory’s SPARK (Student Partnerships for Advanced Research and Knowledge) program about the work that they’ve been conducting with students at the NSLS-II. The abstract has been accepted for presentation at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.
They’ve been asked to now create a poster for the conference, and the abstract will be published in a journal of NASA’s conference proceedings. The title of the abstract is “Using Planetary Sciences for Early Engagement and Development of the Next Generation of STEM Professionals,” and in addition to describing the scope of the SPARK program and its benefits for high school students, it briefly mentions the work that sophomore Sasha Seletskaya is involved in as lead student in analyzing the chemical composition of a chondrite meteor recovered from northwest Africa. Sasha is hoping to confirm the presence of elements within the meteor that may have either brought organic material to Earth or assisted in the creation of life through the elements that were present on primitive Earth.
Click here to view the SPARK Abstract
SWR Educator Honored by Harvard Club
SWR High School social studies teacher Ms. Ann Gianfalla has been named a
Distinguished Teacher of 2020 by the Harvard Club of Long Island.
Nominated by 2019 SWR graduate and current Harvard freshman Andrew
Honold, she is the first educator from the Shoreham-Wading River Central
School District to be honored with the prestigious honor.
“This award honors middle and high school teachers who have profoundly
influenced their students’ lives,” Dr. Judith Esterquest, chair of the
Distinguished Teacher Selection Committee said. “Dedicated teachers like
Ms. Gianfalla inspire Long Island students to excel, to become
passionate about learning and to recognize the value of hard work. These
teachers devote countless hours to creating a better future for our
Ms. Gianfalla, who currently teaches AP United States
History and AP Psychology, has also taught AP Government and Politics
in the past. She has been an educator in the district for the last 19
years. In addition to being the recording secretary for SWRTA, she is
also the adviser for the high school’s successful Brainstormer team.
Prior to teaching, Ms. Gianfalla worked as a corporate
attorney after earning her Juris Doctor degree from St. John’s
University Law School. Her secondary education began with an associate
degree from Suffolk County Community College followed by a Bachelor of
Arts degree from St. John’s University. All of her education credits
have been earned at Stony Brook University.
“Not only was Ms. Gianfalla a great history teacher to me,
she coached the quiz bowl team,” said Andrew, who is expected to
graduate from Harvard College in 2023. “This remarkable teacher treats
every student the same, giving all students the opportunity to know her.
Ms. Gianfalla has truly and greatly affected my life for the better,
preparing me for both Harvard and my life as an adult.”
“This honor is one that is befitting for Ms. Gianfalla, who
epitomizes an extraordinary educator. Her professionalism, dedication
and eagerness to challenge and motivate her students extends beyond the
classroom and continues to transform our students into lifelong
learners. We are pleased that this achievement is one that has shaped
the post-high school life of one of our graduates,” Superintendent of
Schools Mr. Gerard Poole said.
Ms. Gianfalla will be honored at the Harvard Club of Long
Island’s annual University Relations Luncheon on April 4, along with 11
other teachers from across Long Island.
High School English Teachers Receive Language Arts Grant
Two English teachers have been selected to receive a grant from the Long
Island Language Arts Council. The annual $500 grant offered by the
organization helps support the efforts of educators to provide superior
literacy instruction to all students. Ms. Jennifer Nazer and Ms. Sara
Trenn wrote a proposal to support their efforts in building an
independent library and create a comfortable space for students to enjoy
reading. The grant will allow them to purchase contemporary and popular
young adult literary titles that students have been requesting, as well
as seating options including a folding ottoman, adjustable floor chair
and meditation cushions. Ms. Nazer and Ms. Trenn have already created a
classroom library with dozens of books from bookstores, yard sales,
thrift stores and library sales and with the grant funds are
anticipating that students will branch outside of their reading comfort
zones in terms of genre and will have a better understanding and
appreciation of the value of independent reading.
Prodell Educator Leads County Music Workshop
Albert G. Prodell Middle School music teacher Mr. John Samonte served as
a clinician at the annual Suffolk County Music Educators’ Parents,
Educators, and Kids Festival, held recently at Northport High School.
His workshop “Folk Dance with John Samonte” was one of numerous events
that more than 230 musically talented fourth grade students and their
parents participated in together. He crafted his workshop to expertly
guide and engage students and their parents through multicultural folk
Music Educator to Present at State Conference
Congratulations to SWR High School Music Coordinator Mr. Dennis Creighton who has been selected to present a workshop as part of the New York State School Music Association All-State Winter Conference.
His presentation “What About the Text? Poetic and Musical Imagery,” highlights the convergence of musical and poetic imagery in choral music. He will present as part of the choral committees’ offerings at the Rochester conference on Dec. 6.
“We take pride in this leadership opportunity for one of our educators,” Principal Mr. Frank Pugliese said. “Mr. Creighton’s dynamic commitment to our music program and our students is reflected in this honor.”
National Board-Certification for High School Math Teacher
SWR High School mathematics teacher Ellen Fraser has been named a
national board-certified teacher by the National Board for Professional
Teaching Standards. The well-respected professional certification in
K-12 education was designed to develop, retain and recognize
accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools
According to Principal Mr. Frank Pugliese, Ms. Fraser is a champion of
sharing additional math learning opportunities for her students who
embrace these lectures, presentations and even weekend courses.
Currently teaching Honors Pre-Calculus and Honors Algebra II, Ms. Fraser
graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Boston College
and a master’s degree in mathematics teaching from the State University
of New York at Stony Brook. Her extensive resume includes Mathletes
adviser, district team member for STEM program exploration, tutor,
contest administrator, mentor for a new teacher, presenter at the Long
Island Math conference, volunteer and more.
Five honored for dedication to education
Five members of the Shoreham-Wading River School District community were
recognized as honorees at the 2019 SCOPE Educational Service Awards
Each were honored in categories that recognized their leadership, fiscal
responsibility, dedication and countless hours of service in improving
the educational experiences of all Shoreham-Wading River School District
The recipients who were honored are Michael Lewis, Shoreham-Wading River
Board of Education president for School Board Service; Gina
Bettenhauser, active PTA parent and Recording Secretary for the Wildcats
Athletic Club for Community Service; Ellen Fraser, Shoreham-Wading
River High School mathematics teacher for Teacher Service; Manette
DeRosa, office assistant to the Plant Facilities Administrator for
Support Staff Service and Alan Meinster, assistant superintendent for
curriculum, instruction and assessment for Administrator Service.
Mr. Lewis has served as a trustee, vice president and is currently
president of the Board of Education. He also serves as the BOE Bond
Liaison. Mr. Lewis has been on numerous district committees over the
years: he was a member of the Bond Committee, Space and Facilities
Committee, Health and Safety Committee, Technology Committee,
Legislative Committee and Policy Committee. He continues to learn and
grow as a Board member by attending the NYSSBA conventions, law
conferences and Board Officers Academy. When Mr. Lewis is not working
tirelessly on behalf of the students of SWR, he devotes his time to the
community as a Board member of the Wildcat Athletic Club, a Community
Programs floor hockey coach and co-chairperson of the Fathers Flag
Football Charity game.
Ms. Bettenhauser is an extremely active community member of the
Shoreham-Wading River School District. She is a member of the PTSA and
has served on many district committees throughout the years. She is on
the Board of Directors of the Wildcat Athletic Club, a member of the
Audit Committee, Curriculum Committee, Legislative Committee and Space
and Facilities Committee; which she has been the chairperson for the
past two years. Ms. Bettenhauser also served on the Bond Advocacy
Committee and has been able to see the results of the committee’s work
in the improvements made throughout the District. Ms. Bettenhauser was
the class parent for both of her sons through their high school years
and was the Junior Class auction committee chair in 2016 and 2018.
Ms. Fraser has been teaching mathematics at Shoreham-Wading River since
2002. Ms. Fraser earned her Bachelor’s degree from Boston College in
Mathematics and English and her Master’s degree in teaching Mathematics
from Stony Brook University. Prior to teaching, she was a software
engineer for seven years. Ms. Fraser is certified in Mathematics and
English in NY State and in 2014 earned the distinction of NY State
Master Teacher. In addition, she recently went through the rigorous
process of earning National Board Certification in Mathematics. Ms.
Fraser is the Mathletes advisor, initiated the American Mathematics
Contest at SWR, and has her students participate in the SCMTA
competition. She has been a mentor for a new teacher as well as a
presenter at LIMACON (Long Island Math conference).
Ms. DeRosa has worked in the Shoreham-Wading River School District since
1989. She began working part-time in the childcare program, then full
time in the High School library and has been in the Facilities Office
since 2001. Ms. DeRosa enjoys being behind the scenes and her
organizational skills help ensure that the district functions for all of
the students and staff. Her favorite part of her job has been the Bond
projects since 2015 and seeing the projects through from start to
finish. Ms. DeRosa is amazed by the transformation of the schools since
she first brought her son to kindergarten thirty years ago. Ms. DeRosa
will retire in June, which she describes as bittersweet because she
truly loves her job.
Under Mr. Meinster’s nine years of leadership, the district continues to
grow a culture of teamwork and collaboration that fosters innovative
approaches to curriculum and instruction for students. These include
supporting a reorganization of the district’s school alignment to allow
for increasing program efficiency and access to resources, working
closely with stakeholder groups to guide the revision of the district’s
Response to Intervention plan to better meet individual student learning
needs, using data to support targeted instruction, and broadening
access to adaptive instructional support and feedback for students,
parents, and staff. In addition, technology has been carefully
integrated across all programs as a support for classroom instruction.
In all, Mr. Meinster’s work has ensured the social-emotional needs and
high academic standards of students are met.
SWR Educator Selected for World Languages Conference
Shoreham-Wading River High School World Languages teacher Maryanne Agius
was selected as a recipient of a New Teacher Conference Mentor
Scholarship to attend the 65th annual Northeast Conference on the
Teaching of Foreign Languages.
The conference, held in New York City in early February, was three days
of discussions, workshops, sessions, exhibits, speeches and awards,
which reflected the general trends, interests and needs of its
constituents. She was one of only 25 scholarship recipients for new
teachers in the entire Northeast.
Providing a forum for language educators from Maine to Virginia, the
conference was an opportunity for Ms. Agius to gather resources and
ideas to share with Shoreham-Wading River colleagues and students.
In addition to registration and a pre-conference workshop, Ms. Agius was
paired with an experienced teacher who is a veteran conference attendee
who helped support and strategize with her about what sessions to
attend, etc. She also met with the scholarship sponsors, Vista Higher
Learning and the Language Regional Bilingual Educational Resource
Network at New York University, as well as networked with other
“She is a dedicated and hardworking teacher, quite deserving of this
award,” said Nicole Waldbauer, the district’s Director of Humanities,
who recognized and congratulated her for the accomplishment at a Board
of Education meeting.
Read more about her accomplishments here.
SWR Leader in Lincoln History
SWR High School social studies teacher Ruth Squillace attended the 23rd
annual Lincoln Forum in 2018, which took place in Gettysburg, PA. One of
the leading history organizations in the country, it attracts some of
the most revered historians in the Lincoln and Civil War fields as
speakers, panelists and guests from all over the world. Mrs. Squillace
is a member of the Advisory Board and Coordinator of their Teacher
Mrs. Squillace delivered her annual remarks on the opening evening of
the symposium, at which time she presented the winners of the
prestigious Virginia Williams Teacher Scholarship. She also conducted a
dramatic reading with acclaimed author George Saunders who wrote
“Lincoln on the Bardo,” a book which has been optioned for a forthcoming
movie and is being adapted for an upcoming opera at the Met. In a
moderated Q & A with author Joe Fornieri in which she asked a key
educational question that launched numerous inquiries in sharing it to
develop educational materials and resources for teachers nationwide. Her
additional contributions to the symposium included speaking at “The
Lincoln Forum at 23: Looking Back and Looking Forward.” At this
moderated session, she discussed the inception and evolution of the
Teacher Scholarship Initiative, an effort that assists social studies
teachers nationwide, which she developed and has coordinated for the
past nine years.
Through her scholarly devotion and passionate work for the organization,
Shoreham-Wading River High School was named a Lincoln Legacy School –
one of the few in the nation – an honor bestowed on the school from the
Lincoln Bicentennial Commission when the district hosted the first of
two Lincoln symposiums. The first, in 2009 was for Lincoln's
Bicentennial and the second was in 2014. That symposium’s theme was
Lincoln’s Legacy and the funding was secured through a grant she wrote
and for which she was awarded through the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial
Science Teacher Secures Grant for New HS Program
Shoreham-Wading River High School has been selected to receive a $6,750
grant from the New York State Agriculture Education and Outreach for
School-Based Agriculture Programs. Science teacher Kevin Nohejl was
among more than 60 high school educators who applied for the incentive
grant for new programs and will use the grant funds for the school’s new
course Long Island Sustainability.
The course, which began in September of this academic year, acclimates
students to the dynamic science of agronomy, an agricultural science of
soil management and field crop production, with consideration given to
horticulture and sustainability. They are learning various aspects and
the science behind conventional and organic crop production, as well as
sustainability and trends in modern agriculture such as agri-tourism,
farm-to-table dining and Community Supported Agriculture.
“We are very excited for the opportunities and resources this grant will
provide for our students and Mr. Nohejl,” said Dr. Amy Meyer, District
Director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. “From
curriculum and program development and coordination, to resource
acquisitions and professional development, we look forward to witnessing
the success and interest in this high-quality education program as a
result of the work of Mr. Nohejl and his students.”
As part of the program, a number of science students will be selected to
represent the district at the 2019 New York State Future Farmers of
America Convention in May in Syracuse to participate in the program’s
workshops and presentations.
Music Coordinator Presents Workshop
Shoreham-Wading River School District music faculty members participated
in a unique professional development program at the Suffolk County
Music Educators Symposium Day, a day-long event that addressed current
topics in music education that they were able to bring back and share
with their students.
Music Coordinator Dennis Creighton presented a workshop at the symposium
titled “What about the Text? Poetic and Musical Imagery,” which focused
on the convergence of musical and poetic imagery in choral music.
“When working with students, pointing out how the music a composer
chooses to highlight a poetic image can lead students to a greater
understanding of the intent of the poet. This leads to a more expressive
performance,” Mr. Creighton said. “I’m so glad the district gave every
music teacher the opportunity to attend workshops that could assist them
in their specific areas of music education.”
Five Honored with Educational Service Awards
The Shoreham-Wading River School District celebrated five members of the
school community who were honored at the 2018 SCOPE Educational Service
With the theme “Shining Above The Rest,” the recipients were honored in
categories that recognized their leadership, fiscal responsibility,
dedication and countless hours of service in improving the educational
experiences of all Shoreham-Wading River School District students.
The recipients honored were Robert Rose, SWR Board of Education
president for School Board Service; Alisa McMorris, PTA Council
President for Community Service; Joan Jacobs, kindergarten teacher for
Teacher Service; Thomas Wagner, audio visual technician for Support
Staff Service and Glen Arcuri, assistant superintendent for finance and
operations for Administrator Service.