Local educators cited at BOE meeting

Members also get lesson in dealing with disabilities


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  • Recipients of Educator of the Year awards and Sparta school principals Photos by Amy Shewchuk




  • Board Member Jack Surdoval guides Board Member Joanne Hoover through a visual impairment simulation




  • Assistant Superintendent Daniel Johnson assists in neuromuscular disability simulation




By Amy Shewchuk

— The principals of Sparta schools attended the regular Monday night Board of Education meeting to present citations to recipients of the Governor’s Educator of the Year Award. This award highlights educational innovation, student achievement, the rewards of teaching and important services outside the classroom environment that lead to student success. It also brings public awareness to the positive aspects of the educational system.

Sparta High School’s recipients were Teacher and Coach Gerald Carter, who was honored for his outstanding dedication to students and the community over the past 17 years at Sparta High School and Concetta Mangiaracina, SHS’s school social worker who will be retiring after 24 years. Mangiaracina was praised for her constant availability as a resource for students and staff alike and the “calm often needed when emotions run high.”

Sparta Middle School’s principal Michael Gregory presented the awards to Carmel Spelman, 8th Grade Language Arts and Instructional Intervention Teacher and Lisa Kaplan, 6th Grade Science Teacher, both acknowledged for their commitment to students and truly embracing their roles.

“It’s a nice thing to be able to recognize individuals. We could recognize many; however we can only nominate one educator per school. These individuals went above and beyond this year,” said Gregory.

Principal Douglas Layman presented the award to music and band teacher Patti Curtis, who has been teaching the past 31 years in Sparta.

“As a student I didn't have much success as a musician," Layman said. "Years later, as a parent and principal, I see from Mrs. Curtis the compassion, patience and dedication that it takes to allow students to experience success. On behalf all of the past and present students who have had Mrs. Curtis, I thank her for building the foundations for success and also share my regrets for those, like me, that weren't afforded the opportunity to have such a wonderful teacher.”

Principal Laura Trent of Mohawk Avenue School presented the Award to 3rd Grade Teacher Suzanne Nademus, comparing her qualities with “7 Lifetime Gifts — Optimism, Intentionability, Responsibility, Courage, Respect, Sensitivity and Passion."

Alpine Elementary School 1st Grade Teacher Amanda Cronin received the award presented by Assistant Principal Peter Miller. Miller said, “I sent Mrs. Cronin out of the room for a few minutes to see what her students had to say about her. Most of all, they said she was 'nice to us every day' and one child said ‘she’s a great Mom’ When I asked the student how he knew that he replied ‘because she’s our Mom during the day.'”

Dr. Joanne Welles, Physical Therapist with Special Services throughout all the schools was also given the Governor’s Award for her amazing work and dedication.

Several Sparta High School students were presented with the Seal of Biliteracy by Michael Lauricella, SHS Social Studies and World Language Supervisor. This award demonstrates that students are “able to speak, read, listen and write in two or more languages at a high level of proficiency.”

Danielle Hamblin, director of Special Services and Monica Wall, Transition Coordinator, along with 2 high school students, Autumn Nady and Nancy Nester, gave a presentation regarding an assembly that 18 Sparta High School gave at Helen Morgan School in December on the heels of the Helen Morgan's school-wide activities on the book and movie “Wonder,” which is atory about a young student with deformity and disabilities.

The assembly highlighted Disability Awareness, in which students participated in simulations such as vision impairment, neuromuscular disabilities, hearing impairments and attentional challenges. On Tuesday school board members volunteered to assist in the simulations, with Board Member Jack Surdoval guiding Board Member Joanne Hoover through a vision impairment simulation. Assistant Superintendent Daniel Johnson and Kelly McEvoy utilized neuromuscular disability simulating tools and were given everyday tasks to complete. All Board Members were also given sign language symbols and asked to pair up and try to “speak” to each other using AS.

The Disabilities Awareness Assembly will take place at Alpine School for 2nd graders in the spring.

The meeting continued with the 2018-2019 Tentative Budget Presentation by Superintendent Dr. Michael Rossi, Business Administrator Ms. Pamela Hinman and Assistant Superintendent Johnson.

Board of Education members also announced the selection of Jennifer Hamilton, mother of 2 Sparta public school students, to replace Karen Scott on the Board. She will be sworn in at the March 26 BOE meeting.

The meeting concluded with ongoing discussion about school safety, a major focus and concern of the Board of Education, the Sparta Police Department and Sparta Town Council.





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