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Suffolk: Surprise supplies awarded

Gene Siller, holding flowers, with her Phillips Avenue

Gene Siller, holding flowers, with her Phillips Avenue Elementary class. She received $1,000 in school supplies from a program that benefits teachers who often pay for supplies out of their own pocket. Credit: Handout

Three lucky teachers on Long Island won't need any classroom supplies for a while.

They were among 1,000 teachers nationwide who, earlier this month, were surprised with $1,000 in school supplies from Office Max in partnership with Adopt-A-Classroom. The annual "A Day Made Better" program benefits teachers who often spend their own money on school supplies.

The principals of participating schools nominate teachers they believe "exemplify passion, dedication and innovation," Office Max officials said.

"I've been a teacher for 28 years, and I don't know a teacher that doesn't reach into his or her own pocket — and I don't think the public realizes it," said Gene Siller, a special-education teacher at Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverhead and one of the recipients.

Siller's surprise came when principal Debra Rodgers and Office Max representatives made a "grand entrance" into her classroom Oct. 2 at 10 a.m., she said. An oversized gift box held items ranging from a laminating machine to staplers to a video camera.

In Levittown, first-grade teacher Janine Collier received similar treatment at J. Fred Sparke Elementary School. She said her gift box contained everything "from soup to nuts."

"I was truly amazed and shocked and appreciative of everything," said Collier, who was nominated by principal Penny Fisher. "I didn't have an inkling this would happen."

Louise Starr, a first-grade teacher at Park View Elementary School in Kings Park, was the third local recipient.



Interim principal

Mary DeRose is interim principal of Amityville Memorial High School, replacing Scott Andrews, who is now the principal of Roslyn High School.

DeRose — who was an educational consultant last year for Amityville Union Free School District — previously held the positions of high school principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and evaluation, and superintendent of schools for the Kings Park Central School District.



New principals

South Huntington Union Free School District has appointed two new principals: Barbara Kenney at Countrywood Primary School and Stephen Toto at Silas Wood Sixth-Grade Center. Kenney and Toto replaced Karen Siegel and Roberta Lewis, respectively, both now retired.

Kenney had served as assistant principal for Countrywood since 2000, while Toto previously was assistant principal of the district's Birchwood Intermediate School.

"It is our goal to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of each individual student and help each one of them strengthen their character," Toto said in a recent message to the school community.



Day of peace

Dozens of local schools celebrated the importance of tolerance, harmony and unity last month through activities held in conjunction with the International Day of Peace.

In Middle Island, Longwood Junior High School students talked with peace volunteers in Afghanistan via Skype through 2 Million Friends, a campaign that seeks to foster peace in the war-torn country. Pupils then participated in a silent march around the school holding peace-themed signs, as well as a "mix-it-up lunch" in which they sat with new classmates.

In Manorville, South Street Elementary School students participated in Pinwheels for Peace, a global art installation project in which children created colorful pinwheels decorated with wishes for peace. They were placed outside the school in the shape of a peace sign.

In West Babylon, junior high school students wore white clothing and homemade peace signs in a show of solidarity and took part in peace-themed creative writing assignments.



Scholarship semifinalists

Twenty-six high school seniors on Long Island were among about 1,600 students named semifinalists last month for 2013 National Achievement Scholarships for black students, to be issued in the spring by the National Merit Scholarship Corp.

About 80 percent of semifinalists will become finalists, and more than half of those finalists will win one of 800 scholarships totaling $2.5 million. Winners are selected on academic achievements, teacher recommendations and SAT scores, among other qualifications.

The seven semifinalists in Suffolk County are: Kimberly Okoli of Bishop McGann-Mercy High School, Riverhead; Arielle Horowitz of Commack High School; Yori Johnson of East Hampton High School; Josiana Lacrete of Half Hollow Hills High School West, Dix Hills; Sydney Davis of St. Anthony's High School, Huntington Station; and Chelsea Awan and Mohamed Bakkar of Stony Brook School.

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