After posting my first Teacher Appreciation article on Monday, I was immediately contacted by parents asking if they could add to the piece.  The outpouring of love from the community has been truly remarkable.  This was a wonderful collaboration and I am proud to share with you the second part of our love letters to teachers.  May they continue to feel our gratitude and support all year long!

Love Stories

Mrs. Cornella – middle school social studies.  One of my daughter’s favorite teachers. She never enjoyed social studies but that all changed in 6th grade.  Mrs. Cornella made the subject and the content they reviewed relevant to the class. She cared about her students and always asked about them and took interest in them outside of her classroom. My daughter left that year loving social studies which previously had been one of her least favorite subjects. -Jennifer Perfetti 

Simply magical is how one would describe Mrs. Conte.  Her ability to capture the hearts of little ones, as well as their families, as they begin their educational journey at Forest Lake Elementary is unparalleled.  One can feel her genuineness, both in and out of the classroom.  Photo sharing, handwritten notes, ‘just because’ check ins are only a few ways she does so.  We couldn’t have been happier to have been a part of her kindergarten family with our first and now second little.  And we know she will always be a part of ours. -The Hamel Family

Mrs. DiMuzio is a great teacher. She comes up with fun projects. I love when she shares about her heritage and she makes learning Spanish fun! -Anonymous student

Mrs. Hobbes – both my children were fortunate to have her as a fourth grade teacher at Wantagh elementary.  They both loved her and excelled in her class. She helped them transition their academic style and challenge them in ways they hadn’t before. With a class of 20+ students it seems that it would be hard to make her teaching style individualized but I feel that Mrs. Hobbes excelled at this. When I asked my daughter about her favorite teacher – her fondest memory was she told her “you continue to be a unicorn in a field of horses”.  That continues to inspire her! -Jennifer Perfetti

A big thank you to Mrs. Jencius & Mrs. Florio! They comforted our son beyond end during his first year at WES, and provided the same comfort for us as well. We can’t thank them enough for making Kindergarten beyond memorable for him. He has made huge strides this year and it’s all because of their incredible work day in and day out! Teachers are an extension of parents and we are forever grateful for having them!!! – Mark Garfinkel & Christina Eva Garfinkel

Two of my children have had Mrs. Gimeli for Middle School Italian. Both have excelled in her class. One of my kids has an IEP and we could’ve opted out of the class. When we decided to opt in, we were contacted by Mrs. Gimeli asking specific questions so she could implement accommodations from the IEP. She has been a Rock Star about everything! She went above and beyond to gain understanding about challenges and how to implement accommodations. She has made learning a new language fun. She has shown our child success in learning a 2nd language regardless of having an IEP. She continues to have regular contact throughout the school year providing updates as to how she is meeting needs. Our child will continue with Italian which gains graduation credit. Now there is interest in taking AP Italian in HS due to his ongoing success and high grades in the class! Thank you, thank you, thank you to Mrs. Gimeli! –Theresa Ross

Mr. McNamara is a good man.  When my first-born entered high school, we did not realize that fall sports started practicing before the school year began and my son missed a week of practice due to a planned vacation.  As a result, he was turned away from a sports team when he showed up for practice on the 1st day of school.  When my son went to see Mr. McNamara to explain the situation and ask for permission to join the team, Mr. McNamara listened to my son and allowed my son to join the team.  My son stayed on that team for all 4 years of high school and was co-captain in his senior year.  I am grateful that Mr. McNamara gave him a chance and I will always think of him kindly for that experience. -Mary Hartmann

Ms. Megargel – Mandalay Elementary School. Personally thanking for just all she does every single day of the school year.  We couldn’t ask for a more devoted, supportive and caring teacher.  Thanking all the teacher assistants as well. 

We are truly blessed for all of you. -DawnMarie Ardelean and Family.

In the middle school, Mrs. McNamee.  My kids thrived under her leadership.  My kids were in middle school during the pandemic.  She gave them the structure that they craved.  But more than that, she pushed them to be their best.  She always made sure that they knew how proud that she was of their work habits.  It was the attention and encouragement that she gave my daughter this past year that improved her confidence all around.  Each teacher named above was structured, disciplined, caring, and motivating.  They shaped my children into the students that they are today and I am so thankful. -Heather Donahue

Ms. Moran is more than her students’ physical education teacher at Forest Lake.  She is a motivator.  She motivates her students to try hard, accept and give help, want to succeed, and know it is okay to learn from their mistakes.  Ms. Moran inspires all her students to try their best whether it is in PE class or on the field/court.  She is an inventor.  Ms. Moran is always inventing new games and fun activities for ALL the kids to enjoy during PE class.  Everything she builds or invents is done with thought and care to make sure it encompasses all the varying abilities of her students. Thanks, Mrs. Moran, for always involving my sons and all your students. -MaryBeth Reynolds

I owe a debt of gratitude to WHS guidance counselor, Mrs. Prestianni.  At a time when my son was struggling academically that was causing a high level of anxiety, she jumped into action with no judgment and his best interests at heart.  She continues to be there for him whenever he needs some support or guidance, and she is one of his biggest cheerleaders.  She cares about her students’ emotional well-being and their academic advancement.  She is one of a kind and I’m so grateful to her. -Mary Hartmann

My kids were all so lucky to have Mrs. Sandurs as their kindergarten teacher in Forest Lake. She is the perfect mix of funny and firm, and truly gave them a very strong academic foundation. My daughter currently has her again in third grade, and there is such an amazing level of comfort and sense of family that is shared between them – to the point that some sass has even been thrown her way, the same sass she gives to me as her mother!! I send her to school every day, with confidence that all of her academic and social emotional needs are being tended to, by a teacher who has been an important part of our family’s lives since 2014! We love running into Mrs. Sandurs on the softball field, and are grateful for all she does for her students. -Christina Rothhaupt

This year my son has Mrs. Sullivan for 5th grade at Forest Lake, and he comes home every day with a huge smile on his face. She has boosted his confidence, and is helping him navigate the balance between having fun and being a class clown with being a serious student with tremendous potential. Even though he is a minimalist, she will not let him chill and just get by. She is pushing him to give more – whether it be details in writing, or elaborating on his thoughts. And, since he feels so comfortable with her and respects her so much, he is motivated to give the extra effort. He is having such a wonderful last year of elementary school, and we are so grateful to have Mrs Sullivan in our lives!  -Christina Rothhaupt

Dr. Zelenetz is an unsung hero in the Wantagh Schools.  She is caring and kind, and always has the children’s best interests at heart.  She was a partner in preparing IEPs that ensured my kids got the support they needed to excel at Forest Lake and beyond.  As the Forest Lake psychologist, she introduced programs to promote inclusion among all the students and to help students struggling with unexpected life events such as divorce or loss of a loved one.  She always had an ear to the wall to see if anyone was having difficulties and spent a lot of time on the playground to make sure she could help in any way she could.   For me, Dr. Z is a good listener and was a strong advocate for all students within the walls of Forest Lake.  I have no doubt she is providing the same level of benevolence to the middle school community.  -Mary Hartmann

Ms. Zipfel is an amazing educator, but more importantly an incredible person. Sure, my oldest two learned a lot of fun facts from her in fourth grade. But, what they learned even more was how to be a good classmate, and that kindness is the core of how we should treat others. From the daily hugs at dismissal, to the constant laughs, to the interesting lessons, Ms. Zipfel truly motivates her students to be their best selves. She really takes the time to know her students as more than just 10 year olds making progress in ELA and math, but as tweens finding their way socially and emotionally. Affectionately known as Zippy, she is always the teacher who the moms at the pool cross their fingers all summer long for their children to get. My kids have always felt respected and valued by Zippy, as well as loved. There just isn’t anything better than that!  Zippy is a fan favorite for sure, and it’s all because of what she pours into her craft and her students.  -Christina Rothhaupt

Love Lists

Kudos to more of the unsung heroes of the WUT that were not listed here:  notably Amy Smith, Debra Nimmo, Jillian Vetter, Colleen Nicolosi, Mrs. DellaValle, Dr. Protzel, and of course all of the classroom and 1:1 aides. -Louise Soukup-Radzicki

We have been so blessed to have such INCREDIBLE teachers at Wantagh El. These teachers include Mrs. Basedow, Mrs. Luciano, Mrs. Diesso, Mrs. Savella, Ms. Brown, Mrs. Tundo, Ms. Weiss, Mr. Bursky, Mrs. Alessi, Ms. Humphrey, Mrs. DellaMonica, Mrs. DiMuzio and Ms. Fisher. We’re so grateful for the positive impact they’ve made in our daughters’ lives. – Stephanie K.

Having our son go through Wantagh Middle School has been a great experience and the teachers there have been amazing.  They provide the bridge between elementary and high school, guiding students and supporting them while also teaching skills that they will need to succeed during the next stage of their education.  We would be remiss not to thank the following wonderful teachers:  Math teachers Ms. Gonias, Mrs. McNamee, and Mrs. D’Amelio. Science teachers Mr. Vereline, Ms. E. Longo, and Mr. Mule.  Social Studies teachers Mrs. Cornella, Mr. Cippoleti and Ms. Coggins. English Language Arts teachers Ms. Pilo, Mrs. Bruno, Ms. Bewick and Mrs. Hult.  Gym teachers Mr. Reh, Ms. Keener, and Mr. Ligouri (thank you for Fitness for Life!).  Music teachers Ms. Miller and Mr. Cockren.  Spanish teachers Ms. Wolf, Ms. Hernandez, and Ms. Friedwald.  Special area teachers Ms. Gompers and Ms. P. Miller.  Special shout out to Ms. Picullo from Paul! And to Ms. Gilley and Mr. Ciuffo, thank you for your constant guidance and support.  -Lauren and Matthew McHale

To Mrs. Rogate, Ms. Martinek, Mrs. Kopp and Mrs. Allan, Thank you for making school fun and enjoyable. You are All Amazing at what you do! – Gavin O’Leary and Family

Having our three children go through Wantagh El we have truly been blessed with wonderful teachers. ALL of them have been diligent and hardworking and have always met the needs of our kids. But with our youngest child, the one who needs the most attention to his education we have been truly blessed with AMAZING special educators who have gone above and beyond to meet his needs. Ms.Taylor, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. DiNino and Mrs. Geffner have been strong advocates for our son. Listening to all our concerns and looking for new ways to “reach” him and to help him succeed. Also Mrs. DellaValle and Mrs. Locke are my child’s constant advocates for his speech and language, helping his classroom teachers look at it from another view. Having a child receive special education services really needs a team approach and we have always felt so supported by these wonderful and amazing educators. -Anonymous parent

We would like to recognize Ms. Adams, Ms. Sullivan, Ms. Zipfel, and Ms. Moeller. – Anonymous parent

Teachers Ms. Megargel & Ms. Davidson, Psychologist, Mrs. Maleganos. Mandalay Elementary School.  So blessed to have you as a trio… Every single thing you all do, along with teachers assists from both classes, as a team never goes unnoticed and I want to thank you from the bottom of our families hearts. -Ardelean Family

I’m a retired teacher from Mandalay, and have lived in the district for over 40 years. My sons  graduated from Wantagh HS 20 years ago. My colleagues at Mandalay, some who are retired and others still working are or were fabulously dedicated, caring, nurturing and have a very high degree of expertise. We all worked as a team to help all of our students to reach their highest potential and to feel safe and secure in school.  Forest Lake, the MS and HS had many teachers who gave my sons an excellent education, prepared them well for college and treated my sons the way they would have wanted their families to be treated. Teachers who have retired, passed on and still teaching that really left us with fond memories: Mrs. Falke, Mrs. Schwarz, Mrs. Tell, Mrs. Mullarkey, Phyllis Murphy, Mrs. Segerdahl, Mrs. Rosen, Mrs. Moses, Mrs. Fitch, Mrs. Cedar, Mrs. Ross, Mr. Holle, Mrs. McCann, Mrs. Hult, Mrs. Rubin, Mrs. Ashton, Mr. Smith.. FL principal, Mr. Von Bargen, Mrs. Langer, Mrs Millen, to name just some… wish I could name every teacher who had an impact on my sons.  -Cheryl Schwartz 

I have three sons in the Wantagh School District (twins at WMS and my youngest is leaving Forest Lake this June).  I also have had the greatest opportunity to work closely with all the teachers and administrators by being involved in the PTA, 6-12 Association and SEPTA.  I am so grateful to all the teachers and related service providers that have gotten my sons to where they are today.  I want to give a huge shout out to all the special/supportive education teachers and teacher aides in this school district.  Two of my sons have been receiving special education services since kindergarten (now in fifth and seventh grades).  These dream teams work tirelessly to individualize, customize, revamp, & completely alter (if needed) their teaching to meet each child’s educational, emotional, social, and behavioral needs and more importantly help their students feel successful.  They celebrate our kids’ little moments of progress because for differently abled children those “little” moments are huge.  Thank you for nurturing, showing and teaching acceptance and that different is not less and is beautiful! -MaryBeth Reynolds

To all the Forest Lake Staff- You make learning so fun and creative. Thanks for giving my sons a foundation and love of learning.  Thank you for always giving them feelings of support, love, success, ambition, and confidence.  I will miss you all next year. -MaryBeth Reynolds

My children have been so fortunate to have had Mrs. Kerge, Mrs. Jencius, Mrs. Florio, Mrs. Voight, Mrs. Ko, Mrs. Carr, Ms. Sessa, Mrs. Vanorden, Mrs. Mulry, Ms. Infantino, Mrs. Humphrey, Mr. Chiu, Señora DiMuzio, Ms. Moran, Mrs. Edwards, Mrs. Marinis, Mrs. Millen, Ms. Fischer, Mrs. Weber, Mr. Bursky, Mr. Polo, Mrs. Robey, Ms. Alessi, Mrs. Barrett and others who are escaping my mind at the moment.   All of these teachers have had such a wonderful impact on my children.  The teachers and staff at Wantagh Elementary are truly remarkable. –Benedetta Sellars