Eighth Annual Leaders in Education Awards
Dinner – Staten Island
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
College of Staten Island High School for
Nominee: Catherine Goodheart ’05C, ’09GEd, College Guidance
As Super Storm Sandy struck Staten Island with great ferocity
leaving the borough with widespread damage, we in the CSIHS family
were concerned about the community and especially the welfare of
our students’ families. Following the days of school closure, on
the first day back while students were not in attendance, every
teacher devoted the day to reaching his/her student advisory and
checking in with our families to see how they fared and to convey
that we in the school were concerned and seeking to help in any way
we could. We compiled a list of families that had incurred heavy
losses. We were blessed that there were no human losses to our
student body or directly to our staff. Though we were fortunate,
there were families in our school and staff that did lose someone
close to them from the borough, city, or in New Jersey.
After all families were reached, a list of our hardest hit
families was compiled with the intention of taking some direct
action to assist them. Under the leadership of Catherine Goodheart,
our College and Career Counselor who had already been volunteering
in the immediate aftermath of the Super Storm, a faculty panel was
convened and began brainstorming items that could be donated to
neighborhoods that were in high need in the severest hit parts of
the Island. Ms. Goodheart and the committee assigned each advisory
an item and when the students returned to school donations were
sought. Our families responded generously, and these items were
subsequently donated to both our families who were in need and also
to the community-at-large. As a staff CSIHS sought to help directly
and so from the Principal down to the School Aides, on the
Chancellor's Conference Day all members of the staff spent the day
volunteering in Midland Beach, Breezy Point, and Long Island
helping community groups and going door to door with supplies and
offering help to those in need. In many advisories, the students
themselves organized informally and made their own preparations to
meet outside school on weekends and after school to help in areas
that were hard hit. Many teachers and staff showed compassion and
true humanitarianism and volunteered whenever they could. Among
these, Ms. Goodheart's efforts truly stand out, for not only did
she mobilize efforts within our school, she herself donated well
over 100 hours and many weekends and evenings after school at the
sites that were the most heavily impacted.
Thereafter CSIHS reached out to our partner organization, the
Asia Society, expressing the nature of the losses our families had
sustained. Through their national network, the Asia Society secured
donations and raised $18,000 on our families' behalf. These funds
were converted to gift cards from Lowes, Sears, Home Depot and
other vendors that we distributed to 16 of our hardest hit
To continue our efforts as a school, this year we have built our
CSI Spirit Week events (over the course of the five days from April
18 - April 23) around the charity Staten Strong, which is a local
charity that helps Staten Island residents affected by Sandy. All
proceeds raised from Spirit Week will go directly to helping Staten
Islanders rebuild. Currently we are on track to reach our goal of
$3,500. Finally, to continue to keep attention on the need to
support Staten Islanders in the aftermath of Sandy, school
officials, parents, and the Asia Society appeared on the ABC
Morning Show with Ken Rosado in April.
Concord High School
Nominee: Kim Wilson-Hite, Coordinator of Student
Concord High School is “the little school with the big heart!”
They actively participate in various community service projects
throughout the school year. Some of those include; Pennies for
Patients, Bread of Life Food Drive, American Cancer Society “Walk
for a Cure”, the March of Dimes “March for Babies”, The Geller
House/NY Times Neediest Cases volunteer program (for which they
were recently honored), the Coat Drive, Staten Island Project Home
front, Staten Island Supports Our Soldiers (SISOS), and City
Harvest “Feed the Hungry” food drive - to name just a few.
Concord H.S. encourages its students to give back to their
community. With opportunities to showcase their abilities in either
leading, participating and/or organizing each of the school-wide
volunteer efforts, students always rise to the occasion.
Many students went above and beyond in their Hurricane Sandy
Relief efforts. One student in particular, Sean McCarthy, who plans
to join the Marines upon his graduation in June, was instrumental
in leading the clean-up on Guyon Avenue, a location where one of
their own staff members lived whose home was severely damaged.
Sweeping up refuse, clearing debris, moving vehicles, emptying out
homes and helping to relocate those who were displaced were some of
the tasks performed by Sean and other students.
The Concord staff spent untold hours at the FEMA distribution
sites at Miller Field, Sand Lane, Midland Avenue and Hunter Avenue.
Some staff members helped to set up and distribute food to senior
citizens without power at the Staaten. Other staff volunteered at
the Christ Church in New Brighton and the U.A.M.E. Church in
Stapleton, sorting and packaging donations of clothing for those in
Closer to home, a monetary collection was made for several
students and their families who were hardest hit and in need of
financial assistance. Concord also held a clothing drive dedicated
to aid those who needed to start over and rebuild their lives.
Throughout the fall, a group of students participated in the NYC
Neediest Cases joint project with The Geller House, a home for
teens. Although this project was designed during the summer months,
it became one that helped Project Hospitality meet its goal during
Although several students were displaced and unable to return to
school, Concord H.S. remains a source of comfort and support for
them and their families. Current students and alumni are all part
of the large family that is Concord H.S. – with caring educators,
students and parents helping to make a difference in their
Curtis High School
Nominee: Paul Barrett, Social Studies Teacher
As a designated evacuation center, Curtis High School is
expected to shelter individuals and families forced out of their
homes during times of extreme weather. Many of the staff had
undergone online O.E.M. training in preparation for the duties
involved in starting up and running this kind of center.
However, nothing could have prepared us for a disaster of the
size, scope and nature of Hurricane Sandy. As the storm
approached over the weekend of October 27th and 28th, the custodial
staff of Curtis High School was already on the job, putting in
backbreaking hours unloading, transporting and storing relief
supplies in the building. That Sunday night, our Principal, Dr.
Aurelia L. Curtis, as well as 10 area volunteers, joined the
custodial staff as we began to receive some evacuees from Flood
The school’s cafeteria became the center of operations. An array
of cots was set up around a small supply distribution center.
However, Monday, as the storm surges and winds hit the island head
on, evacuees really began to pour in. Additional cots were set up
in classroom spaces. A family of 16 arrived when their home was
destroyed by a falling tree. Arriving buses and walk-ins added to
the numbers. At its height, the school was sheltering over 200 men,
women and children as well as several pets.
On Monday, the lights went out at 4:30 p.m. Battery powered
emergency lighting stayed on for a short time – and then there was
darkness. All through the night, custodial staff ran through the
building by flashlight to secure windows that had been blown out by
the storm. In the morning, it was found that an outside scaffold
had collapsed and that the roof and several areas on the fourth
floor had sustained damage.
However, the first order of business was electricity and heat.
With the assistance of the Mayor’s Office staff and the Office of
School Facilities, we were able to obtain two small generators that
provided some hallway lighting. However, the area-wide electrical
outage meant that there were no service stations able to pump the
gasoline needed to run those generators. With the help of
Congressman Michael Grimm, Dr. Curtis was able to obtain fuel from
the 120th Precinct’s emergency reserves.
With heat and lighting restored to critical areas of the
building, volunteers worked to create a sense of normalcy for our
guests. Meals were prepared, reading materials and supplies
distributed and everyone took the time to listen to one another’s
stories. A television was brought to the cafeteria and volunteers
found DVDs to entertain our families throughout the day. On
Halloween, volunteers helped the children to make costumes and then
led them on an in-house Trick or Treat. More volunteers were
arriving hourly to pitch in. It was a proud time to be a New
By that Friday, our role as an emergency shelter was winding
down. Many evacuees were returning to their homes or had made other
arrangements. The few remaining evacuees were bused to other
But our work had just begun. That Monday morning, Dr. Curtis
hosted a staff conference to develop our school’s own relief
effort. A great deal of thought was given to how we would receive
and support our students – especially those most affected - as they
returned to school over the coming week. However, in the true
spirit of Curtis High School, a very ambitious, multi-faceted plan
emerged to do something more: to go beyond being just a school in
the community to becoming a school for the community.
With Tuesday being Election Day, it was decided that staff would
forgo the usual day of Professional Development in favor of a day
of volunteerism. By sharing information, lists of students and
staff members were identified whose homes were known to have been
damaged or destroyed. Teams were formed that went out into the
affected communities that Tuesday (and many days afterwards) to
help these victims move, demolish or repair their houses. The
student cafeteria became a distribution center where donations of
food, clothing and supplies were collected. Students and staff
joined together to sort and organize the donations for delivery
where needed. As word got out, community members also began to drop
in to pick up the clothing, non-perishables, baby items, pet food
and cleaning supplies they needed. Our staff and family members
donated and distributed a staggering amount of materials over the
course of that week. However, by Friday, we had to start thinking
about returning to our primary mission of education. In the
interests of clearing space in the cafeteria, while we continued to
distribute, we stopped taking in donations of materials. We did,
however, indicate that folks could continue to donate gift cards
for distribution. Gift cards poured in. A staff member designed a
T-shirt for sale to raise funds to purchase additional gift cards.
This allowed us to continue to offer help to families in need for
But this is just one of the many stories of how all of our
Island schools rose to meet the challenges of this storm. It was a
wonderfully healing day for all of us when our Curtis Jazz Ensemble
proudly joined with the student musicians of so many other schools
for February’s giant relief concert.
Sandy left terrible devastation across our island and our city.
However, the storm also reminded us of the power of school spirit
in our communities. We will carry that lesson forward as our school
continues to transition towards the Community School model whereby
the school is supported by and supports the community, not just in
disaster, but every day throughout the year.
Nominee: Elaine Vitiello, Teacher
Francis School has maintained a long standing tradition of
participating in many charitable causes serving the Staten Island
community. Never before however had a crisis like Hurricane Sandy
hit so close to home or affected so many of our neighbors. Like so
many families, schools and businesses, Francis School embraced the
opportunity to help. Mrs. Vitiello, our Student Council moderator
worked diligently with the administration and students to
coordinate the collection of toys and various other items.
Addressing the needs of children was her priority. With the
holidays on the horizon, Mrs. Vitiello had the forethought to
implement this program which would assist families in need. The
effort and time she dedicated to this cause led to an overwhelming
success. Students generously contributed their time and effort in
support of this drive. Mrs. Vitiello’s organizational skills helped
to expedite the delivery of toys and gifts to many grateful Staten
Island families. Her volunteerism not only was an inspiration to
our students but served as a role model for giving and caring where
it was needed most.
Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning
Nominees: 11th Grade Crew Advisors: Jessica Diaz, Adam Goldner,
Kara Grossman, Christina Russo, and Elizabeth Wrubel
When Hurricane Sandy struck New York, it affected everyone.
People lost power, property, and some even lost their lives. Staten
Islanders were among the hardest hit and their communities
instantly and ferociously felt the repercussions.
The first day of reporting to duty after the storm greeted the
staff of the Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School without
the students. Faculty reached for the phones, and called every one
of the 434 students’ homes to check on every family. A list was
then compiled of those families who had expressed a need due to the
after-effects of the storm. The following week, on Election Day,
most faculty chose to go out to volunteer their help around the
Island to contribute toward the relief efforts. Some handed out
water, some distributed food and some helped with renovation work
in neighborhoods in need of help.
As school days began to return to some sense of normalcy, the 11th
Grade Crew Advisors at Gaynor McCown – Jessica Diaz, Adam Goldner,
Kara Grossman, Christina Russo, and Elizabeth Wrubel – decided they
wanted to do more with the relief efforts. The five advisors agreed
they would best be able to help McCown families still struggling by
offering financial assistance. This money would assist these
families with the purchase of much needed appliances, building and
cleaning supplies, personal items and more.
To raise these funds, 11th graders instantly sprang into action.
The Crews created posters to advertise their campaign, spent time
visiting all of the other Crews within the building to speak with
their peers about their efforts, contributed baked goods and “Candy
for Sandy” to a PTA sponsored bake sale, and culminated their
efforts with a paid Dress Down Day for Sandy. Other efforts
included “Operation Sandy Claus,” a toy drive for children,
clothing drives, and a collection of cleaning products. Moreover,
they convinced David Cugini, Assistant Principal, to publicly shave
his head on stage in front of the entire student body if a desired
amount of money was raised. Mr. Cugini, in turn, challenged the
students to raise no less than $2,000 for his hair to be shorn. The
entire school rose to the challenge and exceeded Mr. Cugini’s
expectations by raising more than $2,200. On December 22, 2012, Mr.
Cugini received that promised haircut at the hands of
Paraprofessional John Pansini in front of a cheering crowd in the
school auditorium. All proceeds raised went directly to families of
the Gaynor McCown community that were most severely affected by the
storm. Each member of the Gaynor McCown community lived up to the
school’s motto of “Make a Mark. Make a Difference,” and we couldn’t
be any prouder!
Great Kills High School, a division of
Nominee: Dawn Flanagan, Speech Pathologist
Dawn Flanagan has been a Speech Pathologist at PS 37, working
with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and children
with multiple handicaps for the past 14 years. During that time,
she not only worked to help her children with their educational
goals, but also tried to help out in the community; whether it was
organizing a donation of medical alert bracelets for each child in
the school or helping parents get emergency ID cards for their
children. She always tried to make things better for her
In October, when Hurricane Sandy hit, it left a path of
destruction and devastation on Staten Island that no one could ever
have imagined. When we returned to work after the storm and found
out how many members of the PS 37 family were affected, we were
shocked: 13 our staff members as well as 13 of our students either
lost their homes or had substantial home damage. Dawn immediately
approached our Principal, Mr. Anthony Faiella, and asked if she
could start a collection for our staff who suffered devastating
losses. In addition, she sat down with members of our PTA and came
up with a plan. Dawn, along with one of her colleagues, collected
over $6,000 which was divided and distributed to staff members who
were affected, while the PTA graciously took donations to
distribute to the families of the students who were affected.
In the weeks after Sandy, Dawn reached out to friends and family
to see if anyone could lend support. A friend and former colleague,
Kate Bellotti, soon contacted her with an offer she could not
refuse. As President of the PTA of Glen-Worden Elementary School in
Glenville, New York, Ms. Bellotti reached out to the parents of the
school and asked that in lieu of buying holiday gifts for their
children's teachers, they donate a gift to the children of PS 37
who were affected by the storm. With a help of her Assistant
Principal Debbie Labetti, Dawn contacted our families affected by
the storm and asked the parents for a list of names, ages and
clothing sizes for our students and their siblings. She then sent
this information to Ms. Bellotti. On December 19th, 17 boxes of
gifts arrived at PS 37 for these families. Along with several
colleagues, Dawn sorted, wrapped and dispensed sacks of toys,
clothing items and gift cards to the 13 children in need before
they went home for the holiday break. You cannot imagine the smiles
of joy this brought to the families and to all of us as well.
Our school cannot begin to thank Dawn Flanagan for all that she
has done and continues to do. She has consistently gone above and
beyond for her colleagues and all of our students as well. We are
lucky to have her as part of our school. Dawn tries hard to make a
difference in the lives of those around her, and she has definitely
made a difference here.
Michael J. Petrides School
Nominee(s): Michael Blyth, Special Education Teacher and the
Faculty Advisor for the Petrides Chapter of Habitat for
The Petrides Chapter of Habitat for Humanity has never been
busier since Hurricane Sandy struck our shores on October 29, 2012.
We started our service with our volunteers operating a “Children’s
Fun Center” at the Petrides School which served as an evacuation
site for displaced Staten Islanders during and after the storm.
According to NYC officials, “Petrides ran the best shelter in all
of New York City,” thanks in part to our highly organized custodial
staff, committed supervisors, and the Fun Center.
In the following weeks, Petrides staff and students formed work
crews to help “gut homes” in the Zone A areas to rid homes of
soaked debris and drywall. We also organized four community clean
ups in the Midland Beach areas during the winter months to give
residents a sense that people didn't forget about their plight.
Petrides Habitat volunteers are now in the rebuilding stages where
we are installing insulation, putting up drywall, and painting
homes that have received new boilers and electrical wiring. Several
weekends a month Habitat crews are helping needy families, mostly
in the Midland Beach area. Our purpose is to get people back into
their homes as soon as possible, and as we say, “Save the world....
one home at a time.”
Monsignor Farrell High School
Nominee: Mr. Timothy Cummings ’90NDC, Assistant Dean of
From the first days of the storm, the students of Msgr. Farrell
High School were in the forefront of cleanup and relief efforts.
The morning after the storm, the students could be found in all the
devastated areas of the East and South Shores bringing relief
supplies and starting cleanup efforts. That afternoon, they turned
our gymnasium into a clothing and supply drop-off center, and
worked into the night sorting donations which they then loaded onto
trucks and delivered to the central relief center at Mount Loretto
throughout the weekend.
Each day for weeks after the storm - and continuing now - they
have organized themselves into work parties after school and on
weekends to do demolition, haul rubbish, clean out yards and open
spaces, deliver supplies, and provide whatever assistance is
needed. In addition to manual labor, they have spent time with both
the elderly victims and youngsters, providing the human contact and
support that is so important. They have provided and continue to
provide tutoring and sports opportunities for youngsters, and
companionship to the elderly. Our lawns and sports fields are
hosting various youth sports teams from local parish sports
programs whose playing fields are no longer available. In addition
to adjusting their own practice times to accommodate these youth
groups, our students have done the practical preparation of areas
not normally used for play, and assisted the parish and community
team coaches at practice and game times. Numerous fundraising
efforts have been developed and conducted by the students
themselves for the benefit of various local relief efforts.
As many of our students have been displaced by the storm, the
students have faced the challenges with practical help to one
another with things as simple as sharing extra uniforms, sports
equipment, books, and welcoming students' families into their homes
until they could return to their own homes.
This mammoth effort was organized by the students themselves in a
remarkable show of youthful enthusiasm and leadership that is the
hallmark of Msgr. Farrell High School and the lived reality of our
motto: Vir Fidelis, The Faithful Man. All our many service clubs
(Holy Name Society, Hearing Our Heroes, Habitat for Humanity,
National Honor Society, Teaching the Christian Message, Special
Olympics Club) and our athletic teams used their existing
structures to organize these ongoing relief efforts. In addition,
our present students coordinated with the many relief efforts
organized by our alumni who have done so much to help our
Moore Catholic High School
Nominee: Lois Giambrone, Secretary
As we were preparing for our annual Open House event during my
first year as principal of Moore Catholic, like many people, we
were greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy. In light of this
circumstance, all mundane tasks and priorities became skewed and
Upon our return to school after a full week of being closed, the
student attendance on that first day back was almost 100%. I was
greatly encouraged by the sea of faces in our gymnasium that Monday
morning as we prayed for the victims of this storm and began to
discuss ways to reach out to those in need. Apparently, our
students’ timely attendance that day was indicative of their need
for some normalcy and stability.
Immediately following our assembly, I was bombarded with a
multitude of students and faculty offering suggestions for how we,
as a school community, could respond to this crisis. My immediate
priority was to focus on those in our school community in need of
assistance. At least 10 families of Moore Catholic students were
subjected to irreparable destruction of their homes. The school
immediately set up a fund and distributed appropriately to those
Once we began to provide material and spiritual comfort to our
students, our next steps included multiple efforts to offer
assistance to those in the broader Staten Island community. This
enterprise continues in one form or another to this day, as the
effects of the ravaging storm remain quite palpable. Some
highlights of our outreach efforts include:
1. Several dress down days which raised a few thousand dollars
for affected families.
2. The school’s adoption of a specific family which enabled us to
provide some cheer at Christmas and beyond.
3. A toy drive with contributions delivered to many children in
time for Christmas.
4. Many students helping to clean out houses damaged by the storm,
including one instance of an elderly former faculty member
requesting some strong young men to empty her damaged basement—a
charge which was quickly accepted by several of our senior
5. Students appearing at aid stations distributing food and
6. A student-led group tasked with helping to re-construct homes,
with dress downs conducted to raise money for supplies.
7. Our Student Council, led by Mrs. Horihan, Mr. Hughes, and Ms.
Santangelo, engaging in too many activities to mention here.
8. Our very own Mrs. Giambrone, constantly preparing and delivering
food and supplies to many of those in need.
9. Spontaneous monetary collections by students, coordinated by Mr.
Cianciotta, which were used to buy necessary items.
I am proud to acknowledge the responses of the Moore Catholic
community, both students and faculty, to the havoc wreaked upon the
Staten Island community as a result of the hurricane. The Moore
alive and well, and I am truly grateful to all who demonstrated
that, contrary to some negative stereotyping, Staten Island is
filled with selfless individuals.
New Dorp High School
Nominee: Deirdre De Angelis, Principal
The response to Hurricane Sandy by the New Dorp High School
community is difficult to adequately convey, as their response was
widespread and is ongoing. Over 400 students and staff members were
directly impacted by this storm, with many having lost all or most
of their possessions, including their homes and automobiles. As a
Zone A school, the surrounding neighborhood became a disaster area
with thousands of people needing assistance.
Despite the confusion during the days that followed the storm,
New Dorp High School (NDHS) was able to quickly mobilize a response
effort. They developed a system of communication and action, where
staff went door-to-door to find out what families specifically
needed, relayed that information back to others at the school, and
then created and delivered assistance packages of food and
supplies. During this time, staff and students also gutted
homes in the neighborhood, collected and sorted clothing and
household supplies, prepared hot and cold meals in the Culinary
Arts lab, and established a charging station for families without
While the initial response to Hurricane Sandy was filled with
urgency and desperation, the New Dorp High School staff recognized
the need for providing a sense of stability to the neighborhood.
Federal, State and City agencies established on-site relief
centers, and NDHS staff worked side by side to help families obtain
support, including applying for FEMA relief. The school reorganized
classrooms to accommodate the housing of over 1,000 I.S. 2 staff
and students who held classes at NDHS for over one month while
their school building was being repaired.
In addition, NDHS established many avenues of emotional support,
Providing trauma counseling to students, staff, and
Organizing and hosting a wonderful dinner on Thanksgiving Day for
650 people in the community with donated food and assistance from
staff, students, and community members.
Assisting the Mayor’s Office in running a holiday party for
children impacted by the storm.
Hosting members of the NY Knicks and Knicks City Dancers as an
inspirational event for affected students.
Offering yoga and meditation classes to students and staff in order
to provide strategies for stress reduction.
Perhaps New Dorp High School’s greatest response effort has been
through fundraising and the allocation of donated goods, materials,
and funds to students and families in need. Being aware that
students and their families need to have a good night’s sleep in
order to function well the next day at school or at work, funds
were raised to purchase mattresses, box springs and frames for
families who needed to replace them because they were lost, damaged
or have become moldy. This is a
continuing effort, with over 100 mattress sets purchased and
delivered to date, and additional sets being held for families that
are still rebuilding.
Another enormous effort came from working in collaboration with
the New Dorp High School’s Alumni Association, which raised
$280,000 from donations across the United States to provide $2,000
grants to NDHS families impacted by the storm. These funds went
directly to the rebuilding efforts such as building supplies,
construction expenses, and the replacement of appliances lost or
damaged. Securing assistance specifically for students has been
remarkable. In addition to acquiring donations, there is an
enormous amount of outreach, organization, and preparation to
ensure that students and their families have access to these
resources. Donations have included:
Over 100 graphing calculators donated from companies and
Fee waivers for SAT registration and college application
Shoes, clothing, toiletries, cleaning products, food and other
items from corporations such as Nike, Levi’s, NY Knicks, NY Mets,
Z100, Fruit of the Loom, ShopRite, Costco, and Kmart.
In collaboration with PENCIL, over 100 $25 gift cards to various
stores distributed around the winter holidays; from Applebees
restaurants they received 250 $25 gift cards.
On-line courses for displaced students, provided by the iLearn
$5,000 of assistance for senior trips and dues for
Funding for school licenses of SAT Prep and Regents Prep.
Shoes and accessories were secured for the “Prom Expo” hosted
by NDHS. This event was open to all students impacted by Hurricane
Sandy throughout NY, NJ, and CT. Gowns and dresses were donated for
Prom, Junior Prom, Sweet Sixteen’s or graduation.
In the face of great adversity, New Dorp High School staff and
students came together to be one of the leading relief efforts on
Staten Island. The rebuilding has only just begun, but the staff
and students of are dedicated to coming back “stronger than
Notre Dame Academy
Nominee: Theresa Spear ’96GEd, Dean of Students
here to view booklet
Port Richmond High School
Nominees: Kerry Spillane, English Teacher
Jennifer Hansen, Educational Paraprofessional
In the days immediately following Hurricane Sandy, as Staten
Island news reports began to share the tragic stories of our fellow
Islanders, members of the Port Richmond High School staff began to
reach out to Principal Timothy M. Gannon about the school’s
response to the storm’s tragic aftermath. Staff members began to
phone, text, and e-mail the Principal and Assistant Principals
calling for a plan to help
parents, students, staff members and neighbors impacted by the
storm. Groups of staff, unaware of what their colleagues were
doing, began to work independently to collect resources, not only
from other members of the school community, but from alumni as
On Friday, November 2, 2012, when the school staff reported back
to school, it became immediately apparent to members of the
administration that there was a great sense of urgency and energy
to go further into the community to help our neighbors in need. Two
staff members in particular, Kerry Spillane, and Jennifer Hansen,
took it upon themselves to organize Staten Islanders who wanted to
support the rebuilding process for the storm’s victims. Unaware of
what the other was doing, each began to identify resources in the
community that would be available to help storm victims, especially
those victims who were members of the Port Richmond High School
family. Working with elected officials, the Red Cross, and other
recovery agencies, these two ladies immediately began setting up
hurricane recovery centers and supply centers in the impacted
When the Port Richmond High School staff returned on Friday,
Kerry Spillane and Jennifer Hansen were ready to direct them in
ways that each person could provide assistance and support to those
in need. Upon learning that, the Principal decided to deploy staff
members on Election Day to impacted zones in New Jersey, Brooklyn
and Staten Island. These two ladies immediately began to organize
staff members into teams which could help Port Richmond High School
families and other Staten Island families in the clean-up effort.
On Election Day and in the days to follow, teams of Raiders shared
their school pride, energy and caring attitude with countless
victims. In a revealing moment of how educators become role models
for high school students, a group of forty students joined the
effort the following weekend when they heard of the impact the
faculty had had in the impacted zone. Students and staff worked
together to distribute resources, cook meals for victims, and
provide a helping hand and a caring heart at a
most tragic time in the lives of so many people.
Like so many schools on Staten Island, Port Richmond High School
demonstrated the strength of teamwork and the “can do” attitude
when it comes to helping those most in need. Port Richmond High
School is proud to be part of the Staten Island community, a
community that is clearly defined by caring people who come
together in times of tragedy to overcome any challenge that
Ralph R. McKee Career and Technical
Education High School
Nominee: Kristin Kenavan, Teacher
There are countless stories of the efforts of the Ralph R. McKee
Career and Technical Education High School community to reach out
to their neighbors after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. On
Election Day, the Guidance Department travelled to the homes of all
of the students who lived in the affected areas and knocked on
doors to check on their status and to spread the news that McKee
was open, warm, with food, and a safe place. Some members of the
Guidance Department outreached to Project Hope, which helped to
provide extensive relief to families who were dispossessed from
their homes. Some staff members went to the homes of other staff
members who had lost all of their earthly belongings and helped to
rebuild their home, recover valuables, and navigate the red-tape of
FEMA and the other government agencies.
David Sarno, our Automotive Technology teacher, contacted
Unadilla Valley Central School, in Upstate New York, who sent a
truck of school supplies and cleaning equipment, which was
then dispersed to families in need. Kathleen Eberlein, our
Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services, contacted an
agency that yielded 40 back packs. Joanne Klages, our Social
Worker, was the hub to which students could turn when they needed
emotional, social, and nutritional resources.
Students and staff organized a clothing drive, and students
presented staff members who suffered the most severe losses with
care baskets. Jeff Pedersen, our Programmer, was the coordinator
for the shelter at Susan Wagner High School long after the schools
re-opened to attend to the needs of the people who were homeless as
a result of the hurricane.
Although the entire McKee community stepped up to the plate to
assist our students who were affected by the hurricane, Ms. Kristin
Kenavan went “above and beyond.” Ms. Kenavan went door to door to
the homes of our students to make sure that they were okay. She
drove up and down the streets of those affected areas, handing out
food and clothing to those in need. She encountered a family
sitting in their car shortly after the hurricane and literally took
her coat off her back, and gave them whatever money she had in her
pocket. She became the 'go to" person for other staff members to
find out information about our students. Kristen's classroom became
the "holding room" where staff members would bring food, clothing
and toiletries for Kristen to take with her as she drove from door
to door helping those in need.
For this reason we acknowledge her efforts and appointed her to
gratefully accept the honor bestowed on our school from St. John’s
Richard H. Hungerford School
Nominees: Kristin Pryor McHugh ’94CBA, Assistant Principal
Noreen Fitzpatrick, Teacher (coordinated clothing and supplies
Pamela Brown, Teacher (worked with students for the animal supply
The Richard H. Hungerford School has been a part of the Staten
Island Community since February 1, 1967, serving developmentally
disabled and autistic students ages 11 - 21. Many of our students
are also physically challenged. Our school has 366 students at this
time, and 20% of our student population and 20 staff members were
affected by the Hurricane. We have staff and students from Staten
Island, the Rockaway Peninsula and Brooklyn. Our staff coordinated
collecting clothing and household supplies for our families and for
the hard hit community. Staff volunteered on Staten Island,
Brooklyn and in Rockaway. One physically challenged student
suggested collecting food and supplies for the animals and
Hungerford contributed food and supplies to the animals of Staten
Island. Every student’s family was called personally to make sure
that they were okay and to find out if they needed anything. Some
families were trapped in elevator buildings unable to leave their
child alone to go out and obtain much needed supplies like food and
water. Hungerford staff collected and delivered the supplies.
Tonight, as we accept this award, we still have families of
students and staff who are not yet in their homes. We hope that
they will be in their homes soon.
South Richmond High School
Nominee: Michelle Costantino, Site Administrator/Secretary
On October 29, 2012, a tragedy occurred, which changed the lives
of many. Hurricane Sandy has left many people wondering if their
lives will ever be the same. As many will forever be changed for
the worse, some have actually changed for the better. I would like
to recognize the people who have worked tirelessly at the Mount
Loretto distribution center. The distribution center has given our
school an opportunity to help the people affected by this tragedy
in our own way.
P25R employee Michelle Costantino has taken a leadership
role in organizing deliveries and distribution of supplies to
families in need. Her ability to coordinate and organize the site
helped make an easier transition to get supplies to people in need.
Ms. Costantino’s greatest achievement in this process was getting
our students involved in the daily operations of the distribution
We are a District 75 School, which educates students with
special needs ranging from emotionally disturbed to autism.
Michelle was able to incorporate many of our students in the
various functions of the distribution center. She supervised our
students while they unloaded tractor-trailer trucks full of
supplies, organized the supplies, and carried out what the victims
of this tragedy needed to awaiting vehicles. Through this horrific
incident, our students were given an opportunity to show their
ability to shine. Our students and their families are not always
able to make a financial contribution, but this opportunity allowed
them to do what they could.
Our hearts and prayers will always be with the victims of this
tragedy. I hope our efforts have made some part of their lives a
little better. It has definitely made an impact on our students,
making them more appreciative and thankful, rather than taking for
granted, for what they have, even though it may not be much.
I would like to thank the people at St. John’s University for
this recognition. Please keep the message alive that the people
affected by this tragedy still need our help. The job is far from
St. John Villa Academy
Nominee: Kathryn Schirripa, English Teacher
Kathryn Schirripa ia a graduate of St. John Villa Academy High
School and Iona College. She has taught English and Religion since
joining Villa’s faculty in 2007. Ms. Schirripa, in addition to
being a faculty member, is very active in our school community as
well as the community of Staten Island. She is the Moderator of
Student Council, the Head Coach of the Junior Varsity Soccer team
and the Assistant Coach of the Varsity Softball team. Through her
various philanthropic activities she serves as a role model for
students at Villa. She coordinates Villa’s Thanksgiving food drive,
Christmas gift collection and Easter baskets for children each
year. She coordinates the BOLD food drive for Project Hospitality
Kathryn has created unique spaces and themes for and organizes
the Junior Dinner Dance each year. As coordinator of our Campus
Party each year she raises money for various organizations, this
year our fundraiser will be for the Make a Wish Foundation. She
assists our Dean of Students,who is the moderator of the Key Club,
with the Fashion Show each year to raise funds for organizations,
this year our fundraiser will be for the benefit of St. Jude’s
So it is no surprise that when Hurricane Sandy hit that Kathryn
would be front and center of any activities to help the victims.
She attended and supported numerous functions in support of
Hurricane Relief. Immediately following the storm, she collected
heavy clothing, coats, and shoes and delivered them to The Petrides
School drop site. The first weekend after the Hurricane she
volunteered at Miller Field to sort clothing and help people find
suitable clothing and shoes. Each year Villa has a Culture Night,
Kathryn helped coordinate the evening whose proceeds went to the
Siller Foundation who used the donations for Christmas trees for
the families who were affected by the storm.
She helped pack clothing at IS 2. She held a school collection
for cleaning products for the victims. Kathryn conducted food
drives for parish food pantries in the South Beach area as well as
donated food to St. Charles’ St. Patrick’s Dinner for families.
Villa is proud to count Kathryn as an alumna and faculty member.
Kathryn lives Villa’s mission every day as a compassionate member
of her communities.
St. John Villa Academy High School, in keeping with our mission
of being compassionate towards members of our communities, launched
a number of efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy. In
response to an appeal for assistance for the members of our school
community who were affected by the storm, donations of gift cards
and monetary donations were received from families of our students
as well as our students themselves. Gift cards were distributed
soon after the storm, at Christmas and again after the first of the
year. Monetary donations were used to help pay the tuition of the
students who were storm victims. Another monetary donation made by
an anonymous benefactor was distributed to victims to help defray
the costs of repairs and refurbishing their homes.
Students who were displaced from the storm were given breakfast
and lunch at no charge until they were able to return to their
homes. Storm victim families from our school community were invited
to a dinner in December followed by a performance of our annual
Christmas Concert to help lift their spirits. Through the efforts
of Sr. Lois, an anonymous benefactor donated money that was made
available for tuition grants to incoming 2013 freshmen students.
Through the efforts of Sr. Anita, Nazareth Academy an all girls
Catholic High School in Wakefield, MA held a day to perform 12 acts
of kindness, sent us prayers and a monetary donation for our
students. The entire Villa community remembered all the victims in
our daily prayers.
St. Joseph by-the-Sea High
Nominee: Greg Manos, Director of Athletics for Boys
Students at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School have been on both
the giving and receiving end of aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Although the school building and campus sit right off the Raritan
Bay, they escaped damage from the superstorm, save for a power
outage. About 40 Sea families lost their homes and belongings to
Within a day after the storm, however, students, parents and
faculty members mobilized to aid victims. Thanks to the efforts of
Greg Manos, Director of Athletics for Boys, the school set up shop
in front of the main entrance (just prior to regaining power to the
building) to accept drop-off donations. Collections of clothing,
food, baby and cleaning supplies, as well as monetary donations and
gift cards were dispensed to families in need, as well as to rescue
and relief organizations. The school used familiar social media, as
well as its emergency phone system to call every family and inform
them of the relief effort.
In addition, Gail-Marie Costelli, a member of Local 52 of the
International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, of which
Father Reilly is a member, came up with the idea of obtaining
furniture donations from movies and shows that were finishing in
New York City. A call was placed to Local 52 President John Ford
and Christina Tomlin, set decorator for the television show “Gossip
Girl,” who arranged for the donation of more than $100,000 worth of
gently-used furniture from Warner Brothers sets and thousands of
dollars’ worth of furniture from Bridge Props in Brooklyn.
Furthermore, Mr. Manos arranged for members of Theatrical
Teamsters Local 817 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters
and members of the Sea community to donate trucks to deliver the
furniture to Sea. Once it arrived at the school, Mr. Manos and Ms.
Costelli supervised the distribution of furniture to more than 20
families who suffered significant damage to their homes in the
hopes of returning some sense of normalcy.
For several days following the storm Mr. Manos arranged for a
constant caravan of cars and trucks to drop off and pick up
supplies for Sandy victims. Coaches, teachers and priests drove the
school’s van to distribute supplies to families all along the
Midland Beach area of Staten Island. When you have a true leader
like Fr. Reilly, dedicated faculty (such as Greg Manos) and a
foundation in Jesus Christ, helping is not hard work, but rather a
blessing. And our students understand that’s what Catholic
St. Joseph Hill High School
Nominee: Elizabeth Cotter, Director of Development
It seems that our Hilltoppers have acquired a new name, “angels
from the Hill”.
According to the Staten Island Advance reporter Diane Lore, who
said in a recent article, “if you look anywhere around the
neighborhoods and blocks devastated by Hurricane Sandy, you’ll most
likely come across one or more ‘angels from the Hill’ – a.k.a.,
high school students from St. Joseph Hill Academy”.
She called and asked if it were true, that on the days immediately
following the hurricane, more than half of the 484 student
population, accompanied by their parents, fanned across Staten
Island to help in
any way they could. I responded that it was true and that our
students never cease to amaze me. With school closed, instead of
staying home, their instincts were to go out and see what they
could do to help.
They went to Miller Field, to Capodanno Boulevard in Midland Beach,
handed out food, sorted donated clothing, and helped clear debris
from flooded homes. They delivered pizzas, served containers of hot
soup, and handed out some toys and stuffed animals to the young
children who lost some of their most treasured belongings.
Their generosity did not stop there. When they returned to
school, student groups, athletes and clubs raised money at their
special events. Student Council assigned each of the 16 homerooms a
specific collection, one collected for infants and toddlers,
another adults and seniors; others pet necessities, and cleaning
Without hesitation, Hill alumnae responded to our call for help.
Their friends and families joined the ranks of donors. All totaled,
the Hill community, raised over $114,000, which is shared with both
What have we done with the funds? We distributed $28,000 for the
high school families who lost their homes or part of their homes
and possessions. The funds raised by the students clubs were
distributed to the students directly to replace clothes and books
lost. We contributed $150 to each of the families for
re-registration fees, and we plan to distribute $15,000, to
families affected, for next year’s tuition.
We are not quite finished. With the blessing of our
contributors, the money that still remains in our relief fund we
plan to use for our work study program, scholarships, and tuition
assistance where needed.
We thank all who were a part of this. Your contributions and help
will never be forgotten and you will be remembered in our daily
St. Peter’s Boys High School
Nominee(s): Patricia Calchi, Teacher
Michael Cosentino, Football Coach
As word began to spread throughout the St. Peters’ family of the
devastation from super storm Sandy, it became clear that we had to
help – we had to do something to help our community, our neighbors
and those in our St. Peter’s family.
The first call to action came to our football team. They were to
meet on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at the firehouse near Sands Lane
and McClean Ave. The boys helped to unload supply trucks and load
other trucks that would take the supplies to the relief stations on
the Island. The boys worked the entire day.
As the needs became clearer, our Student Council Officers
started a cleaning supply drive. The request went out to the
student body to bring in cleaning supplies, gloves, Clorox, etc.
Our LaSallian Youth Group requested the student body to bring in
clothes, jackets, socks, shoes, ect. These items were then
delivered to Midland Beach and Oakwood Beach’s relief stations.
Our annual Thanksgiving Food drive was geared towards being sure
that all families impacted by the storm could have a Thanksgiving
meal. Food collected was then delivered to the relief stations so
that a Thanksgiving meal was available to the impacted families.
The National Honor Society along with the Interact Club took our
Toy Drive to a new level. Over $5,000 in toys were collected and
then donated to two local organizations – Where to Turn’s Sandy’s
Toy Store and the Richie Gardner Toy Drive. All the toys found new
homes with the families of those impacted by the storm.
Just before we broke for Christmas vacation there was a concern
about Christmas for those students in our St Peter’s family who
were impacted by the storm. At the December Student Council meeting
several ideas were discussed. It was decided to give each student a
gift bag which had a gift card for the UA Theatres along with
snacks to enjoy. The Student Council officers distributed 40 gift
Staten Island Academy
Nominee: Janice Earl, Director of Guidance
Collected approximately $3,000 in cash and gift cards to be
distributed to members of the SIA family who were affected by the
Donated books to replenish the class libraries of PS 38, a
school that suffered major damage by the storm.
Middle School students and faculty organized, boxed and sorted
items that were stored in the Project Hospitality warehouse so they
could be deployed to Sandy victims.
Lower School students brought gifts and cards to children who
were living in the Project Hospitality temporary shelters located
at the former Bayley Seton Hospital and Mount Manresa. They also
sang folk songs to entertain the workers and residents at these
Upper School students and parents volunteered at the Sandy site
through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to the Towers Foundation as well
as directly at Miller Field. They also delivered hundreds of
towels, washcloths, nutritious snacks, disposable plates and
cutlery as requested by Project Hospitality to evacuees at the
former Bayley Seton Hospital.
The school has donated flashlights, batteries, extension cords,
masks and work gloves to the Unitarian Church site at Midland
Staten Island Technical High
Nominee: Vincent Maniscalco, Principal
“It is difficult to find the right words of wisdom and
inspiration in times of tragedy, but I can tell you that we as
people are not judged by what knocks us down, but instead by what
makes us stand up.”
This was the opening statement given to students when they
returned to school for the first time after the storm. Teachers,
Administrators and Guidance Counselors spent the day before
surveying the neighborhood for downed trees and power lines,
posting Facebook bulletins, delivering food, volunteering and
preparing for the return of our students. In the same way that
people prepared for the storm, not knowing what Mother Nature would
unleash, the Faculty of Tech had no idea how bad it would be for
the students. Many had themselves suffered tremendous loss and
destruction. When school resumed, we learned just how bad it was.
Every absent student symbolized the unknown fear and imagination of
the worst possible scenario. Many homes were lost or heavily
damaged. Fear, frustration and loss were, and in many cases still
are, the prevailing feelings of the day. When we refer to the
Staten Island Tech community, we call ourselves a family. The Tech
family has suffered as has our neighboring schools and
More powerful than the wind or the surge has been the outpouring
of love, support, volunteerism, dedication and hope. The family has
supported each other. There are still many struggles, but the storm
could not prevent us from standing up again.
One of the most difficult aspects many young people faced after
the storm was dealing with the wide range of emotions surrounding
the tragedy. As is often the case, tragedy can inspire great
artistic expression. The booklets on your tables are excerpts of
original works produced by the students of Staten Island Technical
High School, which will be published in a Hurricane Sandy
Literature Magazine. With their English teacher Mrs. Johnson, the
students at Staten Island Tech hope to complete editing and publish
by the end of the spring and are happy to share their work with you
on this very special occasion tonight.
The SITHS family would like to thank St. Johns University for
recognizing the efforts that our schools have made on behalf of the
Staten Island community after this unprecedented tragedy. We have
all coped in various ways. Donations, volunteering, and compassion
have transformed the hurricane into a community service exercise.
As the rebuilding continues it is important to remember that the
process is not complete. The hard work must continue. The Staten
Island Tech Family, St. Johns University and the Staten Island
community stand together for the hard work that continues.
Susan E. Wagner High School
Nominee: Rebecca Morales, Paraprofessional
Susan E. Wagner High School is a large comprehensive high school
educating over 3,400 students on a daily basis. Our school also
serves as an Office of Emergency Management Evacuation
Sight/Shelter. Our role as an emergency site was initiated in
preparation for Hurricane Sandy. We began by providing a
safe and secure location for several guests and their pets.
However, within days, our school was transformed into a fully
operational shelter, which at its peak, housed over four hundred
men, women children, as well as over 100 pets.
The shelter served as a coordinating point for several city
agencies, such as OEM, American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders,
and the Department of Health. Above all else, our school drew
volunteers from all over Staten Island. It became a focal point for
the receiving of donations nation-wide, as well as a center where
people met and travelled together to hard hit areas of Staten
Island distributing bags of donated clothing and blankets, and
trays of food to feed both evacuees and shelter volunteers. Wagner
High School also served as a meeting place for political leaders,
including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, City
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio and
many of Staten Island’s key political leaders. By meeting at our
school, these officials were able to witness first-hand the plight
of our guests, as well as the extraordinary work on the part of
volunteers and school staff.
The outpouring of support from the Staten Island community was
truly reflective of the character of Staten Islanders. We are so
very thankful for the way in which we all came together to support
one another, and very proud that Susan E. Wagner played such an
Tottenville High School
Nominee: Cliff Bloom, Assistant Principal, Programming,
Assessment & Accountability
Tottenville High School was proud to be a part of the recovery
and relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastation caused by
Hurricane Sandy. Beginning in the days prior to the arrival of the
storm, our school was mobilized as a shelter and evacuation center.
Given the unprecedented damage caused by the storm, hundreds of
victims were brought to the school, many remaining for several
days. As staff was able to travel, many school staff members,
including administrators, teachers, school aides and custodial
staff came to the building to assist in any way they could. In many
cases, Tottenville staff remained in the school overnight, some not
returning to their homes until the crisis was over. In addition,
our school's custodial staff, along with school safety staff
provided much needed assistance as well. We were especially
heartened to see the outpouring of support by so many of our
students who also offered assistance in the many tasks that needed
to be taken care of.
Although the destruction and turmoil caused by this
unprecedented storm was difficult to fathom, it was also incredible
to see a school community coming together as one to open our
building, provide shelter, food, clothing and other services and
help, and in some small way to ease the suffering and pain of so