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Smithtown superintendent: Cultivate students' innovation and 'test them less'
Anthony Annunziato, 49, of Smithtown, has been superintendent of Smithtown schools since July. He taught social studies at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, served as assistant principal at Kings Park High School and worked at other schools on Long Island.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Queens and moved to Smithtown 17 years ago.
Why did you come to the district?
Our district has a total of 10,000 students in eight elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools. I was superintendent at Bayport-Blue Point School District for seven years. That district only had five schools with 2,500 students. So, I felt it was time for a challenge running a larger school district. And it’s also closer to home.
I’ve spoken to several Smithtown parents and they rave about the schools here.
The Smithtown community supports a high quality of education and really cares about our students’ success. We have all the ingredients that go into making a good school system. We have the support from parents, local organizations and our students thrive academically and athletically.
Tell me what about the district you’re most proud of?
For the second year in a row we had an Intel finalist. This year, we also had five Intel semifinalists. We’re still excited about our Industry Advisory Board’s “Shark Tank” program, which challenges students to convince local business owners to invest in their concept. That has been going on for decades. We also have an exceptional music program and many kids graduate our high schools with 10 to 15 college credits, enough to prepare for college.
We know what you love about the district, but what would you change?
As educators we all want to build the curriculum for our students to progress, but these are difficult financial times and there are budget cuts. Ideally, I would like to build upon focusing more on 21st-century skill integration and cultivating more creativity and innovation in these kids and test them less.
Shifting gears to the community at large ... why is Smithtown a great place to live?
It really is a great place to live, but the business district needs revamping. There are barely any stores and you don’t see many shoppers walking up and down Main Street. I wish we would focus more on building up Main Street. And I really like the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. It’s really neat inside, too. It has the same original decor. I want it to stay, so I hope more people go to shows to support it. We all need to pull together and figure out how we can make our business district more attractive.