J. Taylor Finley Middle School Principal John Amato and local orthodontist Dr. Inna Gellerman will be honored at the Huntington Foundation for Excellence in Education’s annual gala.
The twin Spirits Awards will formally be presented at the Huntington Foundation’s 26th annual Reach for the Stars gala on Friday, March 8. The organization has donated more than $1 million to Huntington UFSD to support innovative programs and classroom practices.
HFEE’s Reach for the Stars dinner is still many months off, but the organization is already at work planning an event that is expected to attract more than 300 supporters of public education. Last year’s gala at OHEKA Castle was sold-out.
Mr. Amato has been Finley’s principal since July 2006 after having served as assistant principal at Sayville Middle School for six years. He earlier worked as a seventh and eighth grade special education teacher in the Sachem school district, where he began his administrative career as a remedial summer school assistant principal.
A 1986 graduate of St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue with a Bachelor of Arts degree in human relations and a concentration in leadership and human resources development and management, Mr. Amato obtained a Master of Science degree in special education at Adelphi University in 1989. He earned his administrative certification through The College of New Rochelle in 1999.
Mr. Amato maintains membership in various professional organizations and serves as president of Huntington’s District School Principals Association. He is also one of the most highly regarded basketball referees on Long Island.
In their free time, Mr. Amato and his wife enjoy sailing on Long Island’s South Shore and visiting with family and friends. He can frequently be seen attending events across the school district.
An energetic leader who sets high standards for himself, Mr. Amato is steadfast in his pursuit of excellence for every Finley student. He looks to build upon the strong academic and co-curricular traditions of the school, which has been serving the Huntington community since September 1965.
Mr. Amato plans to retire from his position at the close of the 2018/19 school year.
Dr. Inna Gellerman
Named among to the list of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Business by Long Island Business News, Dr. Gellerman is a longtime supporter of Huntington UFSD and its students and programs. She is a prominent financial backer of the high school robotics team that has repeatedly reached the world championships.
Recipient of the Best Practice Award for Customer Service from the New York Enterprise Report, Dr. Gellerman specializes in providing state-of-the-art orthodontic treatment on Long Island for children, teens and adults. Invisalign has recognized her as a Top 1% Provider, presented to the most highly regarded orthodontists across the country.
Outside of her professional practice, Dr. Gellerman has a long history of community involvement and philanthropy. A recipient of awards from the Town of Huntington and the Townwide Fund of Huntington, she has served on the board of directors of the Junior Welfare League of Huntington and KiDS NEED MoRE and on the committee of Pink Aid Long Island and financially supported Huntington Robotics, HFEE, the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum and the CSH Educational Foundation.
Dr. Gellerman serves on the Heckscher Museum of Art’s board of trustees. Whenever Huntington’s students have asked for her support, she has been there.
Huntington Foundation history
Parent Nancy Lundell came up with the original idea for an educational foundation in 1993. She pulled together a group of people, including fellow district parents Beverly Wayne and Elliot Levine, an attorney who performed the legal work necessary to formally create the Foundation’s corporate structure.
That small group of parents, along with several others, began meeting in the superintendent’s conference room in what was then the administrative wing at Woodhull School. It was from those meetings that the Huntington Foundation for Excellence in Education emerged, becoming a non-profit organization in 1994, with formal bylaws, a logo and a board of directors.
In addition to Mrs. Lundell, Mrs. Wayne and Mr. Levine, the original directors included Diane Kirchner, Tom Webster, Susan Agolia, Paula Schneider and Susan Jouard. The first fundraiser was held on a Sunday afternoon at the old Coco’s Water Café on New York Avenue in Halesite. (The site is now occupied by Prime.)
The original group of volunteers devoted and enormous amount of time to the organization, helping to insure its long-term success.