The Huntington School District’s Special Education PTA is relentless while advocating for the student services and programs it cherishes. SEPTA also takes delight in recognizing administrators, teachers and teacher aides who have made significant contributions to the lives of the young people they work with.
Huntington SEPTA established the Distinguished Service Award to honor those who have gone the extra mile and played a key role in helping students with special needs reach their full potential.
The organization presented J. Taylor Finley Middle School special education teacher aide Carol Joyce, Flower Hill Primary School lunch monitor and summer special education program teacher aide Marie Nardelli and Finley special education teacher Lisa Caporusso with its coveted 2017 awards.
SEPTA actively solicits nominations for the awards and after they are received, a multi-member committee review essays and other materials that document how the individuals facilitate inclusion, interact with students, make a difference in the youngsters’ lives and share their special qualities with parents and other staff members.
SEPTA presented the awards during the Huntington PTA Council’s annual luncheon last month. The affair was attended by PTA leaders from across the district, building principals, district executives and trustees.
Nominated by a pair of Finley faculty members, Ms. Joyce has worked for the district since March 2000. “Not only does Carol interact in a respectful, polite manner with her assigned special needs students, but she is the epitome of professionalism with the staff as well,” stated the nomination that was submitted for award consideration. “All of the general education and special education teachers that have had the pleasure of working with Carol make mention that all the students in their class love Carol and ask her for help.”
Ms. Joyce encourages Finley’s special needs students to participate in all of the school’s activities. “Carol always goes above and beyond to help them immerse fully into Finley’s activities,” according to the nomination. “Carol often attends after-school events to support her students, including the school plays, concerts and fundraising events.”
The longtime district aide doesn’t like having the spotlight directed at her. “Carol has taken the quiet, low-key approach to her job, which might not draw attention to her years of dedication and service,” states the nomination. “It is, in fact, her approach to children that has made her so successful in her role. Calm, consistent, encouraging; the steady hand that quiets the eye of the learning storm of fatigue, frustration and possible failure.”
Nominated by one of her Flower Hill colleagues, Ms. Nardelli has worked for the district for eight years. “Lunch monitor positions are very important to our school district,” stated the award nomination. “Ms. Nardelli manages about 100-plus students per day during lunch and recess time. She communicates in a positive and professional way. With the growing number of food allergies, she always makes sure no one is eating alone. She makes sure those particular students are kept safe from any food that could cause reactions.”
Ms. Nardelli also works as a special education teacher aide at the district’s summer program at Woodhull Intermediate School. She even assists at the twice-weekly early morning band and orchestra rehearsals for primary school students at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School.
“Marie Nardelli not only works with children, she’s a nurse’s aide in the morning for the elderly, doing what she does best; making sure they are well taken care of just like our children at Flower Hill,” states the nomination. “After all she does, she goes home to her own two children and takes care of her family.”
Nominated by the parents of one of her students, Mrs. Caporusso has worked in the district since 2012. She earned a BA degree in teaching pre-K, kindergarten and grades 1-6 at St. Joseph’s College in 2000 and a MA in literacy grades pre-K-6 at Long Island University in 2004.
“Our daughter has told us time and time again that Mrs. C. is the best teacher she has ever had,” wrote the parents in their nomination statement. “When we ask why she feels this way, she says simply: ‘Because Mrs. C. is so nice.’” Our daughter tells us that Mrs. C. is always smiling, she’s funny, she asks about our daughter’s life and they laugh together on a daily basis. They share inside jokes. And most importantly, our daughter says Mrs. C. makes school fun.”
The parents wrote that Mrs. Caporusso “has proven herself to be a wonderful teacher. We feel blessed that our daughter was a part of her class. Under Mrs. C.’s guidance, our daughter now feels good about herself. She likes school. She tells us stories about how much fun she has with Mrs. C. and the other teachers at school. Never before has she been so confident and so eager to go to school and never before have we felt she was in such a safe educational environment.”
The three Distinguished Service Award recipients were each presented with a handsome plaque by SEPTA officials.