By Tessa Raebeck
In affirmation of their solid performance, several Sag Harbor teachers were granted tenure at the Sag Harbor School Board of Education (BOE) meeting June 17.
“I just want to let you know how proud we are of all of you,” Dr. Carl Bonuso, the district’s Interim superintendent, told the candidates.
Tenure does not grant unconditional lifetime employment, but ensures that teachers cannot be terminated without just cause. It serves as recognition of teachers’ professionalism and success in the classroom and is recommended at the discretion of the school principal.
Dr. Bonuso spoke of how “bright” the tenure candidates are, referring to the group as “all stars.”
The honored members of the faculty include Claire Viola and Kimberly Marcelle, who were officially awarded tenure earlier in the school year, and newly tenured educators Lacey Price, Jonathan Schwartz, Anthony Chase Mallia, Margaret Motto and Anita LaGrassa.
“Yet it’s not the intellect that makes them special,” he continued. “It’s the heart.”
The board considers members of the faculty for tenure based on four benchmarks: instructional program, learning climate, professionalism and professional growth.
Additionally, administrators judge candidates on the four domains of the Sag Harbor observation report: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.
Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matt Malone and Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols presented the candidates to the board for consideration. All candidates were unanimously granted tenure.
“This is definitely one of the highlights of my year,” said Malone of the annual tenure recommendations and appointments, which were followed by a brief celebratory reception.
Although she was officially given tenure on January 2, Claire Viola was recognized at the meeting. Viola serves as the school media specialist in the elementary school library.
According to Malone, Viola has “taken on the responsibility of enhancing what goes on in the library. Her really creative ideas have brought a lot of new life to the library.”
Teaching assistant Kimberly Marcelle was granted tenure last October. Malone recognized her service in the role of a one-to-one teaching assistant.
“She always does a great job of not only supporting the student that she’s charged to serve, but also all the students in the classroom,” Malone said of Marcelle, who was unable to attend Monday’s meeting.
Pierson alumnus Lacey Price, who received tenure two years ago in special education, was again put forth for consideration, this time for childhood education. Price currently serves as a second grade teacher.
“When you walk into Lacey’s classroom,” said Malone. “What you see is a teacher who’s always well-prepared, puts forth a great deal of energy to make sure that the boys and girls in her care are getting the most out of every day and every lesson.”
Jonathan Schwartz, the computer and technology teacher at the elementary school, was also approved for tenure in childhood education
“Jonathan is a very conscientious teacher,” said Malone. “One of John’s major tasks is to enhance the learning that goes on in the classrooms. He takes the learning a step further.”
Nichols presented Anthony Chase Mallia to the board for tenure consideration for students with disabilities grades 7 to 12 in mathematics.
“Chase impressed me the very first time I met him,” recalled Nichols, who also said that Mallia has an “intense desire and an inner drive to see his students succeed.”
School counselor Margaret Motto was recommended to the board due to her successful expansion of Pierson’s college counseling program.
According to Nichols, Motto has introduced several initiatives and ideas that have “improved the quality of the college search process at Pierson. The amount of attention that students get is admirable.”
Teaching assistant Anita LaGrassa was the last candidate recommended to the board.
“We’ve certainly been impressed with her devotion to her students, the warmth and sensitivity she shows day in and day out,” said Nichols. “Whenever I have the privilege of viewing Anita’s interactions with kids, I do come away feeling good about the teaching profession in general, because she just stands for everything that is good and positive.”
In related news, Ed Drohan was honored for his time as a trustee on the board. Drohan started his term on July 1, 2010 and will serve through June 30.
“Ed, it’s been a pleasure working with you,” said Theresa Samot, board president. “You take every issue that we discuss very seriously.”
“This is a man who is in every way a gentleman,” said Dr. Bonuso.
Chris Tice, board vice president, agreed.
“When I think about the qualities that stand out so much about you,” she told Drohan. ”One of them has to do with honor. I think you are such an honorable man.”
“You taught me a lot,” said board member Sandi Kruel.
Drohan thanked his colleagues for their remarks and spoke of the upcoming challenges the board will face. He cited delivering a signed teacher’s contract, transitioning to the new state mandated Common Core curriculum and further implementation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program as the three most important issues.
Also on Monday, the BOE approved a consultant agreement for “media crisis and issue management services.” The contract, with Syntax Communication, allots for $6,500 for communication services at $200 per hour.
The next school board meeting will be held on July 8 at 7:30 p.m.