Family, friends and colleagues of Keri Lynn Stromski said Thursday that the memory of the beloved Jamesport teacher who touched the lives of students and staff around her will forever live on in the Town of Riverhead as a Jamesport playground dedicated to her was unveiled.
With more than 100 adults and children in the parking lot on a cloudy, cool day at Iron Pier Beach in Jamesport, family, local dignitaries and school officials were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for “Keri Lynn Stromski Memorial Playground." The park now contains a new playground, a bench and a sign honoring the longtime teacher.
Stromski, a mother of three and a teacher in Aquebogue Elementary School who taught in the Riverhead School District for more than 20 years, died on April 6, 2021, after a 4½-year battle with breast cancer. She was 48.
At times emotional, her husband Rob Stromski, who spoke at the ceremony, thanked people for making the playground dedication for his late wife happen.
Stromski said the bond he and his wife shared “is now a beach that will be named after that connection.”
As she battled stage 4 breast cancer, Keri Stromski published a blog, “Faith over Fear,” detailing her fight with the disease on social media, with the goal of teaching the public about treatments and clinical trials and sharing how living with cancer affected the patient and those around them.
Melanie McEvoy, president of The North Fork Breast Health Coalition, said the coalition has dedicated a fund to Stromski for oncology research on stage 4 breast cancer.
“I have a great deal of gratitude to Keri for everything that she advocated for around stage 4,” McEvoy said, “and her putting that in the limelight that was so necessary.”
Brian Miltenberg, principal of Aquebogue Elementary School, read testimonials from school, staff that credited Keri Stromski for sharing her friendship and lessons for advocating for children.
“Because of Keri, I learned what it really means to be in kindergarten. That came from spending a lot of time seeing the magic in Room 15 [where Stromski taught],” Miltenberg said. “Looking at this playground, I can tell that because of Keri, the kids will always have a place to play, and that’s what would be most important to her.”