Congratulations to Some Amazing Educators!

Thursday, June 8, 2023
A Message from President Perry Fuchs
Good afternoon Sisters and Brothers of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers. I hope this newsletter finds all of our members healthy and looking forward to some well-deserved rest as we approach summer vacation!! As with every year, this past May, we had another dedicated group of educators and PFT members who were granted tenure by the Plainedge BOE. Despite what many in society think, tenure is not a guaranteed job for life; rather, it is simply the right to due process before being disciplined or terminated from a teaching position. It is granted by the BOE upon recommendation from the Superintendent of Schools. Earning tenure as an educator in NYS is truly a rigorous process: Newly hired educators must go through one of the longest probationary periods (4 years) of any profession that grants tenure. The members featured below have gone above and beyond in their first few years here in Plainedge and have truly earned the distinction of being recognized for tenure. We wish them much luck and success as they begin the next phase of their careers. Keep up the good work!! In solidarity. 
Emily Antonik
Emily is very glad to be completing her fourth year here in Plainedge teaching third grade to students at Eastplain Elementary School. Prior to coming to Plainedge, she taught in Queens for the NYC Department of Education where she worked as a fifth-grade teacher for three years.
When asked if Emily would like to thank anyone for their help in achieving tenure, Emily responded, “I would like to thank all of my amazing colleagues at Eastplain and the rest of our wonderful teachers and administrators who have provided guidance throughout my first few years here in Plainedge. Everyone is always willing to share teaching strategies and ideas, lend a helping hand, or give feedback in Plainedge. It is one of the many reasons why I love it here! I feel lucky to be a part of this wonderful learning community.” Emily had the privilege of being able to share this special event in her teaching career with her loving husband and babies, as well as her parents. According to Emily, “I'm also so lucky for the support I've had at home. My husband and parents help me succeed as a teacher mom to two babies!”
Hope Burgess
Hope is very excited to be receiving tenure as a teaching assistant at Schwarting Elementary School. While Hope has spent the last four years working with students in Schwarting’s self-contained classes, she is certainly no stranger to Plainedge. Hope actually spent 33 years as a first-grade teacher in one of Plainedge’s other elementary schools, John H. West. After retiring from a long and distinguished career in John H. West, she decided that she wasn’t finished helping our students succeed with their educational goals and decided to help out with our young learners in Schwarting. 
When asked about her decision to remain in education even beyond retirement, Hope explained, “I am extremely fortunate to continue my career in Plainedge, where I help children learn and thrive each day. I feel blessed to work beside talented and devoted teachers who have become life long friends.”
Rocco Caprioli
Rocco has spent the last four years educating students at Plainedge Middle School on a very large variety of subjects including wood working, coding, robotics, computer aided design, graphic design, 3D printing and more. He is a technology certified educator who was actually hired in Plainedge three months prior to graduating from SUNY Oswego. Amazingly, prior to starting his career in Plainedge, Rocco had only served as a student teacher.
Upon reaching this important moment in his career, Rocco “Would like to thank my family for being my support system, as well as my colleagues and administration for welcoming me into such an amazing school district.”
It’s certainly been a very busy spring for Rocco. In addition to being awarded tenure in Plainedge, he also finished up his master’s degree in Instructional Technology. When asked about celebrating all these achievements, Rocco replied, “I plan on gathering with friends and family to celebrate both tenure and completion of my master’s degree.”
When asked to share some final thoughts on receiving tenure in Plainedge, Rocco elaborated, “Thank you Plainedge for allowing me to be part of your amazing family. I will always continue to educate with the passion and excitement that I have had from the beginning. Looking forward to the future and the many great things that will come.” ​
Christine Caputi
Christine currently enjoys working in Plainedge HS as a teaching assistant primarily in Global History and U.S. History classes (self-contained). She has also had the pleasure of working with our Life Skills students for one period per day. Prior to the HS, Christine spent three years at John H. West as a reading teaching assistant in addition to a completing a full year leave replacement as a teacher in second grade during the 2020-2021 school year. Christine is no stranger to teaching, as she was a NYC D.O.E. teacher for 15 years at P.S./I.S. 119Q in Glendale, Queens. Right after graduating from St. John’s University, she began teaching 6th grade for about 7 years. Once her school transitioned to a K-8 school, she became a Kindergarten teacher, where Christine feels she was meant to be. As Christine recalls, “There is no tired like Kindergarten teacher tired, but I loved every minute of it. My heart would melt every year watching them grow from September to June.”
Christine has many people to thank for helping her reach tenure in Plainedge as a teaching assistant. Among the many names, Christine said, “I would like to thank Danielle Terravecchia, Literacy Coach at West, who welcomed me when I started at Plainedge and took me under her wing. She became a mentor and irreplaceable friend to me. The entire staff at West, especially Joe Maisano, was always there to help and support me. I would also like to thank the amazing teachers/staff at Plainedge High School. I was hesitant to be at the high school since my experience had only been with elementary level students. I have had the pleasure of working with amazing teachers like Liz Lewis, Adam Hovorka and Melissa Moss, just to name a few. They make me enjoy my job even more every single day. And, of course, I thank my family for supporting me endlessly and happily joining me at so many Plainedge events.”
When asked about any special plans in store to celebrate her tenure accomplishment, Christine explained, “My family was extremely proud of me. We went out to dinner to celebrate my tenure. My certificate from NYSUT is still on display when you walk into our home. They know how much I love being part of the Plainedge School District.” In addition to receiving tenure as a teaching assistant, Christine said she has even loftier goals for her career. According to her, “I am always setting goals for myself. I pride myself on being a lifelong learner. Although I love being at the high school with this incredible staff, I would love to have my own class at one of the elementary schools in Plainedge. At the D.O.E. I was always the lead teacher and I treasured that experience at West when I taught in second-grade two years ago as a full year leave. I would love to have that opportunity again in Plainedge with a permanent teaching position.”
Elizabeth Clement
Liz Clement is very excited to be finishing up her fourth year as a teacher at John H. West Elementary School. She currently has a fifth-grade class but has taught second grade for the previous three years. At John H West, she teaches 5th grade but taught second-grade the previous 3 years. Prior to joining our Plainedge family, Liz educated students in the NYC D.O.E. for 13 years. If Liz looks familiar to some of our members that’s simply because she is a proud graduate of the Plainedge School District.
When asked if she would like to thank anyone for his or her help in achieving tenure, Liz responded, “I would like to thank my family, colleagues, administrators and most importantly my students, for supporting and challenging me both professionally and personally.” As far as any special plans for celebration are concerned, Liz said she plans on simply relaxing over the summer, having some backyard BBQs with her husband and two children, and of course celebrating with some weekend getaways! As Liz reflected on her tenure journey in Plainedge, she couldn’t help but think how “It was truly an honor to be recognized at the board meeting, surrounded by my family and colleagues. I am grateful to be a part of this community, and I’m looking forward to a long and successful career in Plainedge!”
Janet Dashkoff
Janet has spent her probationary period in Plainedge Middle School working as a teaching assistant in Kristina Fabian’s Life-Skills class. Before coming to Plainedge, she taught kindergarten at a private school in Merrick. Although she currently works in our special education department, her background is in mainstream education. While reflecting on her hard but extremely rewarding work with special education students, Janet noted, “I did not have much experience with special education before coming to PMS. I immediately fell in love with the students and attribute the successful transition to Kristina’s patience, guidance and leadership skills.”
Gabrielle Farino
Gabby, a Plainedge graduate, has always known since she was a child that she wanted to be an educator. While attending graduate school full time, she was a per-diem substitute for about five different school districts throughout Nassau County. Luckily for us, she actually began her full-time teaching career in Plainedge as a per-diem substitute throughout our three elementary schools. After becoming a resident substitute at John H. West, she got the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant within the building and jumped on the chance. During the 2018-2019 school year, she worked at Plainedge Middle School as a leave replacement teacher in 6th grade and then transitioned to teaching 4th grade at Eastplain, also in the capacity as a leave replacement. Throughout her tenure period, Gabby has been very happy to find a home at John H. West teaching first grade students.
When asked if there is anyone she would like to thank for getting her to this point in her career, Gabby offered, “I would not be where I am today without the continuous support of my parents. From a young age, they have supported my dream of becoming a teacher and spent many days being my “students.” My husband, family and friends have continued to encourage me and support me. This milestone would not have been possible without all of the wonderful colleagues I have crossed paths with. Every Plainedge educator I have worked alongside has shaped me into the teacher I am today. Having worked in various buildings and various class settings, each team has welcomed me with open arms! The support and guidance of the administration has allowed me to grow as a reflective teacher and lifelong learner.”
To celebrate this amazing accomplishment, Gabby’s family organized a celebratory dinner with her immediate family so that they could enjoy this special moment together!
Regina Fauci
Regina is very happy to be completing her fourth year in Plainedge as a teaching assistant in the high school where she has spent most of her time in a Life-Skills class with Rita Frank. She really enjoys working with our Life-Skills students, especially when it comes to academic subjects, such as reading or math. Regina came to Plainedge after teaching special education for an agency based in Brooklyn for ten years. While in Brooklyn, Regina worked with pre-school children with disabilities. Prior to working with that agency, she also taught in a parochial elementary school in East NY.
When asked if there is any person or persons she would like to thank for helping her make it to her tenure appointment, Regina responded, “I would like to thank Rita Frank and Bridget Murphy for the opportunity to work among the finest teachers in the field. I would also like to thank all the Plainedge administrators and staff. As the spring turns to summer, Regina will be celebrating her tenure appointment by spending some time in upstate NY. As Regina shared, “My family bought a house upstate in Cairo, NY that runs adjacent to my father's property, and we are building an Airbnb.” Before Regina heads upstate to celebrate, she wanted to let all her colleagues know that she “absolutely loves working at Plainedge!”
Margaret Keaveney
Margaret is thrilled to be completing her 4th year as a teaching assistant in Plainedge. Throughout her probationary period, Margaret has worked at both the elementary and secondary levels in the District. She currently functions as a teaching assistant in the high school where she works in various classrooms, such as self-contained and other special education classes supporting the students' needs and make sure that they are being met. Prior to coming to Plainedge High School, she began her journey in Plainedge as a reading TA at Eastplain Elementary School, where she also earned the opportunity to work as a Leave Replacement Reading Teacher for a period of time as well. Before educating children in Plainedge, Margaret worked as a special education tutor in the Syosset School District and in the Farmingdale School District as a substitute teacher. 
When asked if she would like to thank anyone for his or her help in achieving tenure, Margaret responded, “I would like to thank the countless teachers and administrators throughout my career in Plainedge who inspired me and made me into the educator that I am today. I appreciate the kind words, the love and support, the encouragement, and the words of advice. I am looking forward to many continued years of working as an educator in the Plainedge School District.”
Rebecca Lefkowitz
Dr. Lefkowitz, or Rebecca to her colleagues and friends, is ecstatic to be receiving tenure this year as one of our school psychologists who works district-wide in Plainedge, connecting our students and their families to services offered through our Northwell partnership. Rebecca readily admits, “I am sure most of you have received random e-mail requests from me at one time or another. I really appreciate everyone's patience and understanding over the past 4 years - it has helped make our Northwell partnership successful and allowed so many of our families to get much needed support.” 
According to Rebecca, “Plainedge is truly a wonderful place to work. I float from building to building weekly, and I appreciate the warm smiles and friendly greetings wherever I am that week.” When asked about the people she would like to thank for helping her reach this point in her career, Rebecca reflected, “I have celebrated so many personal milestones in Plainedge, and I am grateful for all the love and kindness I have received along the way. Looking forward to the next 26 years!”
Erica Malat
Erica came to Plainedge after teaching in South Ozone Park and the Syosset School District. Although Erica currently teaches third graders at John H. West, she began her career in Plainedge as a Teaching Assistant and fourth grade teacher in Charles E. Schwarting Elementary School. When asked about the people she is most grateful to for helping her reach this milestone in her career, Erica said, “I would like to thank the staff at Schwarting and West for welcoming me into both schools. A special thank you to my West third grade colleagues who I absolutely love working with. An extra special thanks to Stacey Schwartz for encouraging me to update and submit my resume seven years ago. That decision has allowed me return to the profession I love, after staying home to raise my boys for 14 years!”
Although Erica didn’t share any special plans to celebrate her tenure appointment, she did say that she loves working in the district and looks forward to many more years here!
Melissa Minervini
Dr. Minervini, or Melissa as her friends call her, has been a district psychologist for the last four years working K-12 in all buildings within Plainedge. Currently, she is primarily counseling students on the secondary level. Plainedge is actually the very first school district where Melissa has worked.
When asked if there was anyone in particular that she would like to thank for helping her achieve tenure, Melissa stated that she is most thankful to “her bosses, Bridget Murphy and Nicole Duffy. Thank you for your unwavering support, time and patience. I am continuously grateful for you both professionally and personally. I would also like to thank my fellow psychologists who I consider to be like family.”
As far as celebrations are concerned, Melissa plans to keep it low key by simply enjoying a quiet dinner with her family. In addition to thanking her bosses and fellow psychologists, Melissa also wanted to let all her colleagues in Plainedge know that, “I could not be happier in this district. You all have been so welcoming from the start, and I am beyond grateful to call Plainedge my home.”
Elizabeth Peters
Elizabeth, or as her friends call her Beth Anne, has been a special education teacher at John H. West for the last four years, having worked as an ICT educator in kindergarten all the way through fourth-grade. She currently has the pleasure of working with first graders, also in an ICT setting. Prior to becoming a full-time teacher, Beth Anne also worked as a teaching assistant for Plainedge in a 12:1:2 special class and taught 2nd grade for 6 years at the Diocese of Rockville Center.
When questioned about the people she would like to thank, Beth Anne stated, “I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their continued support over the past six years. I would not be the teacher I am today without their guidance. I am so grateful to work in a community with such amazing coworkers. I look forward to collaborating with you over the years to come. “
Chris Wenz
Chris currently teaches fifth grade at Schwarting, but has actually been in Plainedge for quite some time before earning tenure as an elementary school teacher. Before fifth grade, Chris began his career in Plainedge as a resident sub, eventually receiving a job as a teaching assistant in a self-contained room, which was followed by a position as a TA split between kindergarten and third grade inclusion. Throughout his time in Plainedge, Chris feels extremely lucky that all his positions have been at Charles E. Schwarting Elementary School.
When asked to reflect on the people that have helped him reach this point in his career, Chris offered, “I have to thank my fifth-grade colleagues: Bridget, Matt, Mary Beth, Lucia, and Marianne! Ending my first year of teaching at home doing virtual instruction was very challenging, but my colleagues made it fun and enjoyable. I appreciate all their help and support over these last 4 years!”
In order to properly celebrate this huge accomplishment, Chris enjoyed a very nice dinner with all his family. In addition to celebrating with family, he will also be traveling to Philadelphia for a few days to attend the ISTE conference with some friends, which is a big educational technology conference. According to Chris, “I love interacting with fellow educators and am really excited to learn new skills and techniques that I can bring back to my classroom! As Chris moves forward in what will undoubtedly be a long and rewarding career, Chris would just like to let all his PFT colleagues know that, “I have truly enjoyed my time at Plainedge so far, and I am looking forward to many more great years!”
Kevin White
Kevin White has been a fixture in the Plainedge School District ever since he entered our school system as a kindergarten student at John H. West. Kevin graduated from Plainedge HS in 2012 and came back after earning his Bachelor’s degree to work as a technician for our computer center. During his time as a tech in Plainedge, he had the opportunity to see how great the teaching profession seemed, and he decided to head back to school in order to earn a CTE teaching certificate.
Kevin currently works in Plainedge High School, teaching CTE courses including Video Production and Intro to Mobile Apps & Games. He also co-teaches STEAM at our 3 elementary schools. Kevin has never been a teacher anywhere else and according to Kevin, “Plainedge is the first school district I’ve taught in. It is amazing to have attended here as a student and now work as a teacher.” 
While reflecting upon all the people who helped him reach his tenure appointment, Kevin offered, “I would first like to thank my family and my wife Traci for all of their support in each of my Plainedge endeavors. I could not have made it here without their support. I also would like to thank the elementary STEAM Team, both past and present, for helping me to become the educator I am today. They are a very special group of people with an immense love for Plainedge and educating students in the most engaging ways possible. In addition, the people who make up Plainedge Schools including all educators, clerical, custodial, and technical teams are all truly amazing and help keep Plainedge the special place that it is.” 
Although Kevin doesn’t have any special plans in store to celebrate this important event in his career, he did want to share these final thoughts with his fellow PFT members, “Though this is my fourth year teaching, Plainedge is a place I’ve been happy to call home the last 28 years. I feel very fortunate to be working alongside THE BEST educators on Long Island here in the PFT. It is also special to have my former teachers as colleagues. I am very grateful to have been a student, custodian, network technician, and now teacher here in Plainedge. I am excited for the rest of my career here in Plainedge and continuing to develop connections with students, families, colleagues, and the community.”