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Staff Accomplishments


Leveraging Artificial Intelligence Platforms to Increase Student Learning

Honored For Excellence

Congratulations to Shoreham-Wading River Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Brian Heyward, Miller Avenue teacher assistant Maria Maio and Prodell Middle School teacher Hilary Breig. The three employees each received a SCOPE Educational Service Award in recognition of their exceptional dedication, passion and service to the students of the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District.

Brian Heyward, Miller Avenue teacher assistant Maria Maio and Prodell Middle School teacher Hilary Breig

Connections to Community: Anna Acker and Alice Steinbrecher

Like many in the Shoreham-Wading River School District, Miller Avenue School second grade teacher Alice Steinbrecher and Wading River School nurse Anna Acker R.N. see a need and want to fulfil it. Together, they know that there is a national shortage of blood and every two seconds, someone in the country needs blood. Since 2000, Mrs. Steinbrecher has been organizing the blood drives at Wading River School with Mrs. Acker.

The dynamic duo attended a dinner hosted by the New York Blood Center to show appreciation and recognition for hosting the biannual blood drives, one in the fall and one in the spring. The recognition event took place at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury on May 8.

Some facts that motivate Mrs. Acker and Mrs. Steinbrecher to continue these drives are that one pint of blood can help three people; one out of three people will need blood in their lifetime and statistically 62% of the United States population is eligible to donate yet, according to the New York Blood Center, only 3% donate. Donors are eligible starting at 16 years of age. 

“Our last blood drive (held in April) collected 70 pints, which is our average,” Mrs. Acker said. “The next time there is a blood drive, think about donating and save a life. It only takes 20 minutes!”

High School Educator Vincent Ball Serves on University Panel

Shoreham-Wading River High School English teacher Vincent Ball served as a panelist at Stony Brook University’s Building the Bridge, the third in a series of open discussions among SBU English professors and secondary teachers of English. The event, held on April 8 in the university’s Poetry Center, was an opportunity to discuss how educators can work together to improve English education for faculty and students alike. Mr. Ball spoke on the topic of technology use in the English classroom.

Shoreham-Wading River High School English teacher Vincent Ball

Prodell Educator Serves as VP for SCMEA All-County Festival

Albert G. Prodell Middle School music teacher John Samonte served as vice president for the 2024 SCMEA All-County Festival.

The vice president of festivals for the Suffolk County Music Educators’ Association oversees logistical aspects of the All-County Festival for all 21 performing ensembles in Suffolk, collaborating with the festival team in strategic planning and supporting all 42 ensemble chairpeople alongside the assistant vice presidents of each region in Suffolk County. They play a pivotal role in fostering communication within the organization with participating school districts and host sites and contributing to the overall success of music education in Suffolk County.

Prodell Educator Serves as VP for SCMEA All-County Festival

Date Added: 3/13/2024


SWR’s Bright Light!

Congratulations to Shoreham-Wading River’s Director of Instructional Technology and Cybersecurity Mr. Peter Esposito for being recognized by the Association of Suffolk Supervisors for Educational Technologies as a "Bright Light" in Suffolk County. Bright Lights are selected due to their exemplary integration of technology into their educational environment.

Thank you and congratulations for your leadership, innovation, dedication and expertise in supporting technology in education.

Date Added: 1/18/2024

2023 Educators of the Year!

Click here to read more!

SWR Applauds a Leader in Sustainability

Albert G. Prodell Middle School librarian Ann-Marie Kalin has been certified through the award-winning Sustainable Libraries Certification Program. She was honored for her efforts at the Dec. 12 Board of Education meeting.

The comprehensive Sustainable Libraries Initiative for school librarians requires each member to work through five categories: Community Involvement, Leading Beyond the Library, Social Equity and Resiliency, Standards and Curriculum, and Collections. These categories all cover aspects of the key elements of the Triple Bottom Line of sustainability adopted by the Sustainable Libraries Initiative: environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically viable. Certification program members work through both required and recommended actions to identify those that are most beneficial to their libraries and that best tell their stories of sustainability practices. In addition to the program’s framework that members work through, SLCP members also gain access to resources including a mentor who provides guidance and advice throughout certification, monthly member meetups to connect with other members, as well as a repository of collected sustainability programs, support resources, vendor lists, on-demand webinars and more.

Mrs. Kalin’s focus on community involvement and leading beyond the library demonstrated inspiring efforts over the course of the certification process. With a well-established relationship with the North Shore Public Library, Mrs. Kalin encourages lifelong love of learning and libraries. One of the required action items for participants to complete is creating new relationships with both nonprofit and for-profit businesses and organizations. Mrs. Kalin capitalizes on the positive and generous energy of her MakerSpace and student card makers to build new partnerships with Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and Cards2Connect – cards for military personnel. This year alone over 400 cards were sent to servicemen and women as well as to pediatric patients to brighten their holidays. Prodell’s MakerSpace is dedicated to making and giving, fueling a commitment to service.

As a member of several committees, the Curriculum Development Committee, the Interdisciplinary Reading and Writing Committee, and the Redesign of Middle School Committee, Mrs. Kalin actively shares and implements new and exciting ideas. She continues to ignite reading with various initiatives including the schoolwide BIG Read program, Mind Readers, and often advocates for extended reading periods during the school day to celebrate the community of readers. With the support of Principal Kevin Vann and Superintendent of Schools Mr. Gerard Poole, Mrs. Kalin has welcomed many authors and organizes engaging opportunities for students.

“Prodell Library continues to thrive because we are always crafting to meet the needs of curious middle schoolers today and tomorrow,” Mrs. Kalin said. “The Sustainable Library Certification Program helped to guide reflection and care to those very practices that fuel our space. For that time I am grateful and inspired.”

The Albert G. Prodell Middle School library is a citadel of inquiry, reading, play and joy. Mrs. Kalin ensures an environment that is welcoming to all, and encourages everyone to visit!

Date Added: 12/20/2023

State Grant Awarded to High School

Shoreham-Wading River High School English teacher Brenna Gilroy was honored with a Connect Kids Field Trip Grant from New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. She and English teacher Vinny Ball will organize a trip in April for AP Language and AP Literature students to the historic Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington Station.

The program works to connect students in New York State with nature and history. The field trip will highlight Whitman, who was born in the house in 1819, and include exhibit panels which depict significant events in his life, including the publication of the ninth edition of his most famous work, “Leaves of Grass.”

To connect to classroom lessons, the students will participate in a poetry workshop led by a published poet. They will learn about free verse, or nonrhyming poetry, which Whitman popularized through reading his poetry, and discuss his other poetic elements – metaphors, word repetition and list poems. They will also discuss the meanings of Whitman’s poems and what makes them relevant today, and use them as models to write their own free verse poetry to share.

Date Added: 12/8/2023

Fine Arts Teachers Honored

Shoreham-Wading River High School art teachers Jason Andria and Samantha Shepard were both honored with Teacher Recognition Award certificates for encouraging and inspiring students in their creative pursuits. The honor was presented by Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington as part of the Long Island’s Best program for high school students.

Date Added: 5/23/2023

Shoreham-Wading River High School art teachers Jason Andria and Samantha Shepard

Teachers Present at Language Arts Conference

Three Shoreham-Wading River High School English teachers were selected to present workshops at the annual LILAC (Long Island Language Arts Council) Spring Conference on March 24.

Teachers Vincent Ball and Brenna Gilroy co-presented “Synthesizing Composition: Literature and Lyric,” which provided resources and strategies for secondary English teachers on how to enhance their instruction with music. Teacher Sara Trenn presented the workshop “How Supplementary Media Enhances Teaching,” which focused on using PLCs (Professional Learning Communities or Collaborations) and social media platforms such as podcasts, blogs, Facebook and Twitter to aid teachers in connecting and collaborating with other teachers locally and globally and to enhance their ability to implement new and interesting lessons and activities.

“Both workshops received very positive reviews,” Director of Humanities Nicole Waldbauer said. Mrs. Waldbauer served on the LILAC Conference Committee helping to run it as a member of the LILAC Executive Board. Shoreham-Wading River High School English teachers Brendan Gilley, John Mitchell and Jennifer Nazer also attended the conference.

Date Added: 3/28/2023

Teachers at conference  Teachers at conference  Teachers at conference

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.”

Mr. Samonte smiling at the camera

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

Dana Schaefer

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 children.”

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 dances.



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 nationwide.

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 dinner.

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 students.

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 scholarship recipients.

“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.

maryanne photo

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 Scholarship Initiative.

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 Commission.


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 Awards dinner.

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.