Dr. Mary DiBenedetto is at the top of her game. The longtime Huntington UFSD faculty member was recently honored by the New York State Association of School Psychologists with its Chapter P School Psychologist of the Year Award.
Dr. DiBenedetto, or “Dr. D” as she is widely known around the district, was nominated for the award by colleague Nina DiGioia along with supporting testimonials from now retired J. Taylor Finley Middle School Principal John Amato and fellow faculty members Kathryn Costa and Kate Carey.
Mary DiBenedetto with New York State Assn. of School Psychologists officials at a state conference in Syracuse last week.
“I am so honored to be the recipient of this award,” Dr. DiBenedetto said. “It was a complete shock! It is that much more meaningful to have been nominated by my colleagues. I could not do the job I do without the amazing mental health team we have here at Finley. Most importantly, I get to spend time with and learn from amazing children every single day. I am very lucky to call this my job.”
The New York State Association of School Psychologists presented the award at the organization’s annual conference in Syracuse last week.
“Dr. DiBenedetto is an experienced and highly knowledgeable professional who works closely with students, parents and the school based team to ensure that all student needs are being met,” said Diana Rich, Huntington UFSD’s director of special education and student support services. “On any given day, Dr. DiBenedetto addresses a multitude of social and emotional, behavioral, mental health and special needs of students. She takes action quickly, communicating with all involved in a respectful, sensitive and clear manner. Above all, she is a staunch advocate for all students and individualizes her approach for each situation.”
The faculty member obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees at New York University and a doctorate at Fordham University. She was a social worker for eight years before earning her doctorate and joining Huntington UFSD’s faculty 21 years ago.
Dr. DiBenedetto currently works full-time at J. Taylor Finley Middle School. She has also served at several other district schools during her career.
“She sees the big picture and has implemented school wide initiatives such as the friendship club and positive affirmation project, all of which have a positive global impact on the overall school climate as well as contributing to individual student accomplishments and success,” Mrs. Rich said.