A Tradition of Excellence since 1657

Washington School Plans Joan Balsari Memory Garden

The Washington Primary School community will always have a special place in its heart for second grade teacher Joan Marie Balsari, who passed away last October after a valiant battle against breast cancer. Now parents, teachers and support staff members are planning to create a lasting and living tribute to the cherished educator.

The Joanie Balsari Memory Garden will be planted outside the entrance to Washington's second grade wing. Mrs. Balsari passed in and out of the set of doors there many times each day. The space is now a grassy area without any landscaping. If the dreams of organizers are realized, it will come alive with colorful vegetation.

"Joanie will always be a special member of our Washington family," Principal Marsha Neville said. "We are still in a state of disbelief that she is no longer with us. We hope to create a beautiful garden in her memory that will remain in place for years to come."

Those wishing to contribute to the Joanie Balsari Memory Garden fundraising campaign can send a check payable to "Washington PTA" by March 20 to Washington Primary School, 78 Whitson Road, Huntington Station, NY 11746. Call 673-2090 for more information.

The garden is to be located between the building and an asphalt path that winds it way from the parking field to the school's front plaza area. The garden will also be visible to those driving past Washington.

Born to a Huntington family on July 16, 1950, Joan Marie Balsari attended elementary and secondary school here and graduated from Huntington High School with her future husband, Dennis in 1968. The couple's only child, Denielle graduated from Huntington in 2003. Denielle now works as a Commack special education teacher.

Prior to coming to Washington School, Mrs. Balsari worked first as a teacher aide and then as a short and long-term substitute teacher in the district from February 1989 through June 1996.

She earned an AA degree at SUNY Farmingdale, a Bachelor's degree at SUNY College at Old Westbury and a Master's degree in reading at Dowling College. She obtained teaching certification in ESL through Adelphi University and secured certification as an administrator through Stony Brook University, where she received an advanced graduate certificate.

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