There is a saying, “A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.” I know I still remember my favorite teachers and know exactly how they made me feel when I was in their classrooms. Students (and their parents) never forget the teachers that make a difference in their lives.  In fact, many teachers make an impact that lasts a lifetime.  

In an effort to celebrate our amazing teachers here in Wantagh, I reached out to members of the community to share their favorite memories of teachers in the district.  Below is a list of the responses I received.  I was overwhelmed by these stories, and am so happy to share them with you. I believe our teachers deserve nothing less than our thanks and appreciation.  So in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, here are some stories that will hopefully make our teachers smile and know how much they are loved.  Approximately one hundred twenty-two teachers are mentioned by parents and former students who want to show their immense gratitude!

I knew we couldn’t possibly include every single remarkable teacher, and I worried about the teachers that aren’t mentioned.  Rest assured, if your name is not in this article, there is a child somewhere (whose parents I couldn’t reach) who remembers all the fantastic things you did and said that made their life so very special.

I have listed these “love stories” alphabetically by the teachers they mentioned.  Some people couldn’t pick just one, so the end of the article includes the “love lists” submitted by parents and students alike.  Please enjoy!

Love Stories

I have so many stories about Mrs. Allan in Mandalay.  All relate to her enthusiasm and passion for education…. Her energy is uplifting and positive at all times for her children!!!! She can’t turn it off if she tries!! It’s innate to have that special trait that illuminates life in any situation!! 

She is the sweetest, kindest, [most] selfless person I have met in this school district and has that kind of soul that you don’t meet very often in this world!!! –Laurie Nicholson

Mr. Apfelbaum made my son love math again. And that was no easy task.  –Jeanine Boiko

My daughter has had such a wonderful experience in Mr. Apfelbaum’s class. He has helped her feel confident in math and is kind, compassionate, and an engaging teacher.  –Anonymous parent

My daughter loves the music teacher Mr. Aviles.  She said he is motivating and a wonderful teacher. Everyone in the band loves him.  My daughter looks forward to going to music everyday.   –Anonymous parent 

The 2020-2021 school year looked different than any other year. Our children went to school masked every day, they sat behind plexiglass, eating lunch in their classrooms, they were limited with who they could interact with outside of the classroom, during recess. It was far from an ideal school year. But when my daughter, who was in 4th grade, reflects on her experience she always refers to it as her “favorite school year ever.”  There are two reasons for that, Mrs. Barrett and Mr. Hynes, her teachers. Despite all the modifications and limitations brought on by the global pandemic, these two awesome educators fostered a FUN, collaborative and supportive environment for their students. They created an environment where all the kids felt connected to their peers and supported one another. We saw drastic improvements in reading comprehension, increased confidence in math. We had no idea what to expect when the year began, but any concerns we had quickly subsided when we saw how positive, dedicated and determined Mrs. Barrett and Mr. Hynes were to make that crazy school year a seamless and successful one for our kids. We are forever grateful. –Jill Janson-Meinck

Mrs. Basedow is the most incredible teacher. She creates a classroom full of love, acceptance and that instills a love for learning. Both my oldest and my youngest daughter were lucky enough to have her. Each and every single morning that year they would wake up excited to go to school. She naturally promotes kindness as well as an enthusiasm for learning. She is an absolute gem! –Meaghan Lang 

I want to give a huge shout out to Mrs. Bogart and Mrs. Maleganos.  They are both school psychologists (Forest Lake and Mandalay) and are part of my daughter’s dream team. They have worked tirelessly to help design a program that would meet my daughter’s unique needs (and have managed my needs in the process).  They have been flexible, attentive, and accommodating in order to best help my family.  I couldn’t imagine navigating this without them. –Katie Matthies

Mr. Bloom and Mrs. Malafis have been our guidance counselors at the MS and HS. I think when parents and students are asked to comment for an article like this it’s the teachers who first come to mind. I would like to give a special shout out to these knowledgeable and caring individuals. They have answered every question we have had about the buildings, programs, classes, teachers, etc. They have always returned phone calls and emails in a timely fashion and have met with us on occasion when a meeting was required to discuss our children. Many times when kids approach the upper grades there is less parent involvement, but these two advisors have provided a continued connection and we feel we have a great working relationship with them!  –Kevin R.

Mrs. Brown and Ms. Taylor who had my daughter last year and worked hard to ensure she progressed throughout her first year at Wantagh El. –Kristina Freeman

Because of the pandemic, our daughter’s reading classes were moved online and as parents, it provided a unique situation where we could hear the lessons first-hand. Mrs. Burkhard was engaging, thoughtful and helped our daughter immensely – all during a worldwide pandemic. We’re beyond grateful that our daughter was lucky enough to have Mrs. Burkhard. –Christopher Meinck, Jill Janson-Meinck

My daughter is in college now but she still talks about how much she adored Mrs. Carr. –Michelle Rizzi

Mrs. Carr is an incredible human and an outstanding teacher.  A few months in her class turned my child, a struggling Math student, into a Math superstar.  His confidence grew, he excelled (and continues to excel) in Math. She truly brought out the very best in my child – she even turned him into a Patriots fan!  –Alba G.

Mr. Chiu. He inspired so many kids to love computers.  In 2020, 286 Wantagh parents signed a letter asking that computer education be extended for 3rd – 5th graders because of Mr Chiu.  He stepped up to become a classroom teacher during the pandemic. Finally he was let go due to budget cuts in Spring 2021, a tremendous loss for the Wantagh School District. –Anonymous parent 

When Mr. Ciuffo became principal of the middle school, he wanted to brighten the hallways by adding murals throughout the building. He gave art loving students like my daughter an opportunity to paint and create and supported their visions. Ms. Weber, the librarian, often gave up her free time to supervise my daughter and the other painters who created amazing book-themed murals on the librarian’s desk and ceiling panels. And of course Ms. Gentilesco, who helped manage the entire project, and Ms. Hagan, who nurtures and encourages my daughter’s love of art and is always her favorite class of the day. –Brian M. 

Mr. Ciuffo– Forest Lake principal and MS principal.  During Mr. C’s first year as principal at Forest Lake he implemented a book of the month program. He understood the challenges kids face today and wanted to teach them about kindness. Each month he chose a book focusing on kindness. He would have each classroom teacher read the book of the month to their students, he also did read alongs via zoom. His goal has always been student focused and trying to bring out the very best of each individual child by making them think about being kind, helpful, and caring human beings and community members. He put a lot of thought into his selections for the Book of the Month program. It continues to this day even though he has moved on to the Middle School as principal. It is a great tradition at Forest Lake Elementary School and a legacy he created!  –Theresa Ross

I can not say enough about Mr. Ciuffo and the role he plays as the MS principal. I am truly impressed with him. He puts forth so much effort to get to know every single child, their likes, their dislikes, their friends, their interests. He tries to connect with each student in his building on a personal level.  –Anonymous parent

I’m also a huge fan of Mr. Ciuffo! He was amazing as our Forest Lake principal but when he moved to the middle school he truly rallied during the pandemic and kept parents and students informed and connected. Again, he’s clearly got the passion for his job, it speaks volumes!  –Susan Cunnane

When we moved from Forest Lake to Wantagh Elementary, my daughter really missed life at Forest Lake.  I never really understood the motto “Forest Lake is a feeling” until we were no longer there.  There was always a strong feeling of acceptance and love that filled the building.  I know that this was all a result of the leadership of Mr. Ciuffo.  After we moved, my daughter wrote to Mr. Ciuffo on a few occasions just to say hello.  He responded to her letters every time and even included photos of school events.  His responses made my child smile every time! I will forever remember the time Mr. Ciuffo took to remember her even when she was no longer a student in his school. –Alba G.

Mr. Cockren and Mr. Aviles, the high school band teachers, are the 2 most dedicated  teachers I know. I have known Mr Cockren since my daughter (who is a sophomore in college) was in the 4th grade.  He was the Wantagh Elementary School band teacher. He taught both of my children there. He made the band fun. Then, to their surprise, he moved up to the high school when my son (a senior now) entered 9th grade. That began the dynamic duo of Aviles and Cockren. They are so dedicated to making the music department amazing. They are always there from planning marching band over the summer, to Saturday football games with marching band, concerts, jazz band, pit orchestra for the hs play, and parades.  That’s all extra from their regular job during the day! They have navigated through covid keeping the kids playing and having concerts outside so we all could enjoy. They even fought to let the kids go to Disney this year on the band trip, which in itself is a major undertaking.  I don’t know anyone who would bring 150 kids and all their instruments to amusement parks!!! Mr Cockren has also gone above and beyond for my children writing letters of recommendation for them.  My children will never forget the great times they had in the band because of these 2 teachers. –Joyce K. 

The Greatest teacher, Mr. Colavita is!  Nuff said when your child purposely takes Physics twice (2nd time AP) because of him! –Jackie Rosanio

For April fool’s day this year, my daughter’s entire physics class dressed like Mr. Colavita, their physics teacher. It was pretty great. The kids just love him! –Laura R.

Mrs. Conway 2nd grade Forest Lake.  Has a love for STEAM and utilizes it in her classroom to engage young students in learning. My son thought her incorporation of STEAM was always fun and challenging. –Anonymous

Ms. D’Amelio MS Math teacher. Goes the extra step to ensure students understand math concepts. She gives an excellent breakdown of all concepts. After tests will pull students 1:1 on her own time for a review of incorrect answers to make sure students understand why they got questions wrong and makes sure they leave her room knowing the concepts backwards and forwards. –Anonymous student 

It’s hard not to tear up when thinking about Mrs. Danziger and how personally invested she’s been in helping our son. It’s a special feeling when you know that a teacher cares so much about the education of your child. She has made an incredible bond with our son and it’s one he’ll never forget. Neither will we. –Christopher Meinck, Jill Janson-Meinck

My younger daughter had an extremely difficult time entering first grade. She cried on day 2 and didn’t want to go in. Immediately Mrs. Danziger and Mrs. Thompson redirected her attention by giving her a “job” to do that would “help them”. But what they were doing was actually helping her. They even paired her up with her only friend that she knew in the class to help her with this very important job of bringing letters, notes or anything of the sort to the front office each day upon arrival. On day 3 and everyday thereafter, my daughter looked forward to going to school as she knew she had an important job to do to help the teachers. I couldn’t thank them enough for putting her fears to rest practically instantly! To this day she talks about how she missed out on the last part of the year with them due to lockdown and homeschooling. We are truly grateful that they helped our daughter transition so beautifully and effortlessly.  She absolutely loves going to school now and is always offering to help out. –Michelle Gebhard

My family has had the pleasure of having Mrs. Danziger for the last three years. My oldest son had her for 1st grade, the following year my youngest had her for kindergarten and then again this year for first. Both my boys have had amazing experiences in her classroom. While my oldest has school come a little more naturally, my youngest really needed to work at it. He came into kindergarten behind. He wasn’t reading , had a hard time with math and really disliked prior school settings because it was difficult. Well with the help of Mrs. Danziger and Mrs. Thompson, my son finished Kindergarten reading above grade level and loving math. They not only pushed him but gave me tools to work with him at home. Mrs. Danziger went out of her way to check in DAILY and to really give him a love for learning.  She loves her students and is willing to do whatever it takes for them to succeed.  She is the reason my son now loves school, she gave him that confidence . I am forever grateful for Mrs. Danziger! –Gingalee Rogers

Mrs. Davidson at Mandalay-teaches Kindergarten.  She is absolutely amazing and all of the teaching assistants that work in the classroom deserve to be recognized as well.  We are so thankful for all of the amazing work she has done this year with our son! –The Reinharts

Mrs. Della Monica worked with my son in orchestra, but knew he also played the drums.  For his last 5th grade concert, she picked an orchestral song with a drum solo. It was amazing to see him play both instruments in one show and he loved riffing on the drums in front of everyone!  She truly let him shine. Additionally, she taught our daughter to love the viola, and inspired her to teach herself songs by ear.  She is the type of teacher that truly inspires students to love music and brings their passions to light.   –Anonymous parent

Shouting out Mrs. DiNino and Mrs. Geffner for being an amazing team who have truly made the time to understand and love my son. Mrs. DiNino reaches out to me weekly and is actively doing her own research on things like sensory diets so that she can make my son (and others) as comfortable and successful as they can be throughout their day. –Kristen S.

Mrs. DiNino and Mrs. Geffner who are not only great teachers but supportive and communicative! They truly care about their students and it shows –Kristina Freeman

Mrs. Faranda is quite simply a gift. She takes the time to learn what each of her students need to succeed emotionally, socially, and academically. She then seamlessly weaves that knowledge into her daily classroom routine, creating an environment where each student’s mind and heart are nurtured and cared for each day. Her students know that they are loved and respected, giving them the room and security to grow as individuals and as a classroom community. As a parent, I could not have asked for more from a teacher. Mrs. Faranda is not only an incredible educator, but an incredible person. –Diann Annese

My sons were both blessed to have had Mrs. Florio. Both my children thrived in her class. Especially my youngest, who had both Mrs. Florio and Mrs. Jencius the year after the shut down. I will forever be thankful for their warm, compassionate demeanors as well as being excellent educators. Mrs. Florio connected with both my children in a very special way that certainly made a mark in their lives. –Gina Pasaro 

Ms. Kathleen Flynn an English and Journalism teacher at the high school. Her enthusiasm for writing is contagious and she really encourages the students to find and write about their passions. She was also the teacher behind the hugely successful drive for donations to Ukraine.  Per my son it was really nice to see the Wantagh students and community  members come together in support of this effort, particularly after the divisiveness of the past  few years. She is the type of teacher that really inspires the positive and good in everyone. –Denise B.

Mr. David Garey teaches English in [the] HS.  My son loves him.  My son graduated in 2011 and [to] this day he still talks about what an awesome teacher Mr. Gary is. –Dolores Favery

Mrs. Geffner and Mrs. DiNino WES  Made the transition to a new school for my son seamless. These 2 women work together so well they take co-teaching to the next level. They can finish each other’s sentences in the classroom and they make every lesson fun for the kids. –Anonymous parent

I would really love to include the guidance counselor Ms. Gilley. She has always been so kind and gracious to our kids at the middle school. Whenever we had a conversation on the phone or my kids wanted to speak to her she was available. Always has the best interest of our kids in mind. –Daria Lerro

Mrs. Gonias was one of my favorite teachers, I had her in 4th grade at Forest Lake. She was kind, supportive and most of all made learning fun!!! I will always remember bookopoly, a game she created to assign various book reports and encourage reading. I am now a teacher in a neighboring district and couldn’t be happier, I would love to thank her for being an inspirational teacher. –Kristen (Hohorst) Pisano   WHS Class of 2006

Mrs Gottlieb taught first grade to all four of my kids at Forest Lake, and my son has her again for 2nd grade. While at a WMS girls soccer game this fall (her daughter and my oldest daughter were both playing) she entertained my 3rd grader by playing hangman on the sidelines. I told my daughter that she was there to watch the game, but she insisted on playing with her for a while, working on which letter combinations made the most sense and really teaching her the strategy behind the game. And this was before Wordle was a thing, and during an intense away game!! –Christina Rothhaupt

Mrs. Hohenberg– 5th grade teacher at Forest Lake.  We have had her for 2 of our children. She prepares the 5th graders so well for Middle School! She instills a great work ethic into her 5th graders. – Anonymous parent

Not to be outdone, Ms. Hult is equally as passionate about ELA and is always engaging with the students and keeping things fresh and relevant. My youngest hates reading and even he performed at Word on the Street!  –Susan Cunnane

Mr. Hunter was a great coach and mentor. He’s also a fun teacher who cares about his students. –Anonymous student

Both of my sons have had the great fortune to have had Mrs. Jencius and Mrs. Florio for Kindergarten and we have nicknamed them “The Kindergarten Dream Team”. They are just the absolute best, so caring to their students and always so positive. They make school so special for the kids and make learning so much fun! They take such an interest in each kid and care about their students as if they are their very own children. My boys have learned so much from them and my oldest, although in the 4th grade, still makes a point to visit them each morning to say “hi” and remind them how much he appreciates them, not just on “teacher appreciation week”, but every day! This “dynamic duo” is very special and we are lucky to have them at Wantagh El.  –Laurie Riahi

Shout out to Mrs. Jencius and Mrs. Florio for making the very best of a challenging pandemic year that was 2020-2021. Despite the challenges, my daughter was full of wonder, smiles, and giggles all year long. Her confidence and grades soared because of how they made her feel. Their lessons on “acts of kindness” were always modeled and highlighted in the classroom. To quote my daughter, “Mrs. Florio and Mrs. Jencius are just the best” and I’d have to agree. –Stephanie K.

Ms. Joyce for Kindergarten at Mandalay Elementary School. She was amazing during covid and made sure each and every one of her students felt special. She was a true role model to her kids, always writing a thank you note back to her students regardless of how small their gift was (including a kinder egg which my daughter gifted her once she found out Ms. Joyce had no idea what it was). She made every parent feel so comfortable and understood during a scary time. –Angie Martinez

Have to give a big shout out to Ms. Athanasia Karaiskos, MS art. MS. K, is fabulous and inspired my daughter to find her artistic talents, was super supportive and had a lot to do with my daughter taking summer classes at FIT and selecting a major in college, Interactive Design. –Jackie Rosanio

I recently had the privilege to reconnect again with Mrs. Kerge over this past year. She remembered the little things from many years ago including my whole family. When I heard she had written a children’s book , she personally signed and delivered her book to my 5 year old. When going on teacher interviews on Long Island last year before landing my dream job , a question that came up was, “Why did you want to be a teacher?” It was a simple answer. Mrs. Karen Kerge. She is the reason I wanted to be a teacher and make a difference in my students’ lives. –Kelly McNamara (Wehle) Class of 2003

Mrs. Laliberte is a 6th grade ICT teacher. She taught me on day one of MS to advocate for myself. She not only did this for me but every student in the class. She always created a fun, kind and caring environment. You knew walking into her class that you were safe and could ask any question. The way she broke down lessons makes you feel like you are succeeding and understanding all topics being taught. –Anonymous student

Our son had the most wonderful year with Mrs. Luciano in her 3rd grade class.  She knew him so well, and knew exactly how to challenge and engage him.  In turn, he wanted to make Mrs. Luciano proud all year long, and that was a huge motivator.  She had a way of connecting with each and every one of her students and inspiring them to be their best selves.  –Matthew McHale

Mrs. Magoloff (Defendini) was my third grade teacher back in 1993-1994 and Mrs. Kerge was my fourth grade teacher for the 1994-1995 school year. Mrs. Magoloff, who is now a Kindergarten teacher at Wantagh Elementary School, was very special to me. As soon as you walked into her classroom you felt like you were home. She was a wonderful teacher who understood not only me but all of her students. I will never forget her tutoring me in math and overall making learning fun! I hope my 5-year-old will have her next year as a teacher, as she will be a new entrant into the Wantagh Schools and get the same amazing experience that I did. –Kelly McNamara (Wehle) Class of 2003

I also would love to show gratitude for Mrs. Mahoney, an aide in Forest Lake, who has shown my daughter grace and understanding even in her most challenging moments. –Katie Matthies

I had Mr. Margaritas in my senior year (2020-2021).  He is absolutely the best teacher in the high school. I knew that I could always count on him for everything that I needed. I also know that every student he had he did the very same thing for. We were so lucky to have him. –Grace Burke

My son goes to Mandalay. He wanted to join the chorus. He is profoundly deaf and uses cochlear implants. Music and singing are especially difficult for him. Mrs. Marinis worked very hard with him so he was able to do it. It was amazing to watch him sing with the group because it was something we were told he would never be able to do. –MaryEllen Humphrey

From a very young age, in only third grade my daughter was inspired by this amazing teacher, which led her to choose her career path today.  She even wrote one of her college entry essays all about her. My son was also blessed to have her three years later.  We handmade a plaque with common things she says to the children which still hangs in her classroom today. 

I am talking about the one and only Mrs. Moeller, Forest Lake Elementary. –Angela Nocera

Ms. Moran is the most incredible physical education teacher ever! Her gym is a true classroom, and she is beyond creative and dedicated. When she is setting up for her amazing units, she stays up at the school working past midnight – just so these kids can be truly wowed when they enter the gym and participate in her exciting units. Obviously she teaches skills and sports, but I would say that character education is at the core of all her lessons. We are so lucky to have her in Wantagh. –Christina Rothhaupt

I know I will always remember the dedication that Mr. Mule showed his students. I was lucky enough to take him for both Earth Science and Modern Food Production. In 8th grade, he introduced our class to hydroponics (at that time, the lab for “Modern Food Production” was an old converted janitor’s closet that he had convinced the Board of Ed to lend him). He encouraged hands – on learning, and truly inspired my love for science. He saw the potential in every student, and pushed us to study hard and be our best. He knew how nervous students would get for exams, so he would store each and every test paper in the freezer in the teachers lounge. Then as he was handing out the chilly papers, he would shout “hot off the press!” He was such a wonderful teacher and I will never forget the true passion he had for his job.   –Annie Browne, Class of 2018

My older son and daughter loved Mr. Mule (WMS) and my son currently has him now and feels the same way. He is passionate about his subject and his Aquaponics lab he built himself! He has a dry sense of humor but the kids really find him funny! As a teacher myself, I can tell you that the students know when you are passionate and when you’re not. Mr. Mule is!  –Susan Cunnane

I have never heard my son talk as much about a teacher as he has with Mr. Mule.  Initially, I wasn’t sure if it was more about having fun in class or academics.  But sure enough, my son started expressing tons of interest in Earth Science at home.  Once I caught him doing capillary experiments in the kitchen.  And then on our recent vacation to Florida, he frequently called out observations about the weather cycle, angle of the sun, and even did a little experiment on the beach related to the sand’s absorption of seawater!  Mr Mule’s passion for science and education is incredibly obvious, and I’m so grateful that he was able to spark this interest in my son. –Matthew McHale

Ms. Mulry is an amazing guidance counselor. She’s helped my son manage his anxiety and school refusal and taught him many wonderful techniques to help with his fears. He’s so much happier, positive, and upbeat about going to school. She has helped him thrive! –Anonymous

Mr. Naughton was my AP Government and College Level economics teacher my senior year. I love how he nurtured my interests in history and government (went on to get my BA in it), and how he made being an entertainer/comedian/instructor/role model into one seamless and effortless job. He made parody songs about the causes of World Wars and was nothing short of the most engaging, silly, and supportive teacher I’ve ever had. –Jamie Sansverie, Class of 2016

Ms. Naughton– HS English teacher. She is engaging and empowering. She brings out the best in students. She hones in on students’ strengths –Anonymous

There are just certain teachers that do possess a kindness that can only make a positive impact on children… Mr. Nyberg has a certain calmness to him, a certain loyalty to him and always has a positive note on anything you bring to him! He knows how to deal with children and people in life that makes them want to keep their heads held high and only shoot for the stars! He does not have to try to do this, it comes naturally to him and he puts all things into perspective for children to set them on the right path! The children know they can go to him for anything, and more importantly, as parents lose control over certain things WE  know that we can go to him for anything! As your children get older it’s harder and harder to keep control over THEIR DECISIONS…but with this man helping us and guiding our children we almost feel like we still have a little control! He answers his emails on vacation even if you tell him not to! Being a teacher and going to work is not a job for him – it is his passion.  And we are very lucky to have him in our school district!   –Laurie Nicholson

My daughter had Ms. Osman for digital art. She didn’t have any previous experience with this type of art. Ms. Osman had a class with a kind and relaxing environment. My daughter enjoyed it so much that she is considering going into the field. She had never considered it before but Ms. Osman was such a good teacher that she piqued her interest. –MaryEllen Humphrey

I would like to shout out Ms. Pepe in the HS. After the last 2 yrs with Covid my boys have fallen out of love of school. They wanted nothing to do with any work. They stopped trying. Ms. Pepe made the boys care again! She’s made it fun…  she’s made it interesting. She has made them look forward to going again. They work, and work hard for her and others now. –Aeriell Clem

Mr. Punzone encouraged my son’s love for geography. He gave him opportunities to demonstrate his knowledge and even let him make a geography Kahoot for the class (and told him he could come back this year to do the Kahoot again with his current class- which my son looked forward to ALL summer). He made him feel so proud of his skills. He also came to see his students play after school in their little league game. He was their biggest fan! –Brian M. 

A teacher who has impacted me greatly is the AP Environmental Teacher, Mrs.Sebastiano. In the beginning of the year, I knew that taking an AP class as a 9th grader would be a challenge. Mrs. Sebastiano made a safe and secure environment that allowed me to feel confident to take this class during the year. Besides teaching the curriculum, she also taught me important lessons that related to my daily life. Walking into her classroom to have our enriching discussion was one of my favorite parts of the school day. I have so much gratitude for the positive impacts and the expansion of learning possibilities that she has put into my life.  –Anonymous 9th grade student

Also want to recognize Ms. Taylor, my son’s 1st grade teacher last year, who was instrumental in his first year at WES and continues to be a great support and resource for our family.  –Kristen S.

Most recently, Mrs. Torrellas has joined my daughter’s team of heroes and she is another one that I am grateful for.  She has welcomed my daughter into her class family without skipping a beat. –Katie Matthies

Mr. Voegler – HS Earth Science. He gives students every opportunity to succeed in his class. He offers a bunch of extra credit activities and while they are fun they also teach you about Earth Science. I woke up at 3:30am to watch the Lunar Eclipse. It wasn’t just textbook learning but interactive because I got to experience it first hand. If I wasn’t offered extra credit there is no way I would have woken up to watch it. The incentives in his class are worth taking advantage of.   –Anonymous student

I was so impressed with Mrs. Voight. My daughter had her in first grade and really set a foundation for the rest of her years at Wantagh Elementary.  Mrs. Voight has a great way of setting the bar high and encouraging students to reach it.  She was firm but fair, strict and loving (and in no way is strict a bad thing!).  We were so happy that our daughter had Mrs. Voight and are so grateful for her!  –Anonymous parent

He’s no longer in the district, but Mr. Watson deserves an honorable mention.  Amazing math teacher and human being.  We lost a good one last year (budget cuts). –Jeanine Boiko

Ms. Weinberg – 3rd grade teacher Forest Lake.  This woman saved my child academically. He had her for third grade and should have been classified for special education for a learning disability earlier in his academic career. She knew the challenges he faced as we always had open dialogue. She went above and beyond to provide a positive environment for him. She changed her teaching strategy, implemented different spelling words, tapped into his love of math computation because it was his academic strength. It took a long time to get him classified, but she did everything in her power to aid in his education so it would not be a total loss of a school year for him. Her passion for teaching and her adoration of her students makes her one of the finest teachers we have been fortunate to have in this district. –Anonymous parent

Mrs. Weinberg and Mrs. Hohenberg from Forest Lake.  My children had Mrs. Weinberg in 4th and my daughter had Mrs. Hohenberg in 5th grade.  Both instilled this love of learning into my kids.  Both teachers pushed my children to be the best that they can be and to be proud of the work that they do.  My son is a professional musical theater actor.  These teachers attended his performances outside of school hours.  They bought tickets and traveled to his shows.  Mrs. Weinberg has been to 2 different productions (one in the summer!) and Mrs. Hohenberg went to one and had dinner with the family before.  They cared not only about the student but the person as well.  Even though my son didn’t have Mrs. Hohenberg, her positive influence impacted him because she cared so much about our family unit.  These are both remarkable individuals. –Heather Donahue

Ms. Weiss is an incredibly gifted teacher. She goes above and beyond to help her students and prepares them extremely well for middle school. She really takes the time to get to know all of the kids in her class and helps them reach their potential. –Brian M. 

Dr. Zelenetz, school psychologist, has been an integral part of both of my children’s emotional well-being both at the elementary and middle school levels.  I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate her helping my kids navigate some difficult school and home situations that were impacting their education.  Her door is always open to students and she makes time for the parents as well.  Assets to the Wantagh Schools like Dr. Z. are necessary and appreciated. –Louise Soukup-Radzicki

Mrs. Zimmer is incredible.  She has supported me, my family, and my daughter’s team when she was having challenging times.  Her understanding and support for my daughter’s success means everything to me. –Katie Matthies

Love Lists

What comes to mind are the teachers who support the kids outside of school. For example, Dr. Davis and Ms. Cassidy came to see some of the kids in an outside theater production last year (Les Mis at CAP.) More recently, my daughter’s French teacher, Ms. Vargas, came to see Crazy for You. She brought flowers for each student in her class who was involved in the show, both on stage and in stage crew.  –Laura R.

I would love to give a shout out to Mrs. Bogart (psychologist at FL). She is an amazing person and helped my daughter so much this year! I don’t know what I would have done without her! Also, my daughters absolutely love Mrs. Adams (kindergarten teacher FL). They talk about her every single day and will never forget her! Mrs. Moeller is also a remarkable teacher and Mrs. Sullivan. They have all made such a difference in my daughter’s life! –Chrissy Kurz

These are the teachers that my oldest loved – Mrs. Luciano, Mrs. DellaMonica, Mrs. Degregorio, Mrs. Weber,  Mrs. Miller,  Mrs. Lorentzen,  Mrs. Langer.  My younger daughter loved Mrs. Jencius, Ms. Ko, and Mrs. Thompson.  –Anonymous parent

The list of teachers with four sons is so long! Ms. Coons, Dr. Davis, Ms. Naughton, Ms. Gordon, Ms. Cassidy, Mr. Aviles, Mr. Cockren, Ms. Nieves, , Ms. Pecorella, Ms. Stuart, Ms. Volpi, Ms. Picullo, Ms. Hult, Mr. Jackson –Anonymous parent

My kids have been lucky to have so many wonderful teachers. When I asked them their favorites…Ms. Zipfel, Ms. Sullivan, Ms. Wolf, Mrs. D’Amelio, Ms. Longo (7th gr science), Mr. Jackson, Ms. Miller, Ms. Gompers, Mr. Mule, Mrs. Rotundo, Mr. Ruane, Mrs. Espinosa, Mr. Voegler, Ms. Psihos, Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Apfelbaum, Mr. Colavita, Ms. Gentilesco, Mr. Sachs, Mrs. Hood, Mrs. Labiento, Mr. Naughton, Ms. Pecorella, Ms. Prisco, Mr. Svolos, Ms. Hagan and Ms. Dionisio. –Dawn C.

Ms. Bellucci, Mrs. Longo, Mr. Parlagreco, and Ms. Flynn. All go above and beyond for their students. Permanent substitute Mr. Schroh is not only helpful and kind, but he makes learning fun. –Anonymous parent

Both of my girls had and continue to have amazing teachers.  My older daughter said Mrs. Zipfel and Mrs. Sullivan from Forest Lake and Mr. Jackson from MS.  My younger daughter said Mrs. Schiavetta and Mrs. Gottlieb from Forest Lake.  –Nicole Simon

There are so many teachers in Wantagh El that we have loved over the years! Hard to pick one.  –Daria Lerro

It’s the people who are there when I can’t be, and when my children are in their most vulnerable states, that I can’t place a value on.  They are heroes in my family’s book. We are forever indebted to them. –Katie Matthies

I love Mr. Ward & Mrs. Ward, they are the best by far!!!  Christy Farrugia & Sue McKenna are the best team ever along with Mr. Jackson. Mrs. Thompson & Mrs. Butler are fantastic – love Wantagh School District. –Sunie Affatigato

Mrs. Ferrara, Mrs. Perrone and Mrs. Black who are getting our kids ready to take the next step into 6th grade – so grateful to you. Mrs. Della Valle, Mrs. Kornacki, Mrs. Robey, Mrs. Jung, Mrs. Phillips, Mrs. Glasser, Mrs. Mealey, it takes a village and we are so lucky that you are all apart of ours. –Jill Janson-Meinck, Christopher Meinck

We look back on our children’s education, and have to list these wonderful, amazing teachers.  To say we are grateful is an immense understatement.  You have our love and appreciation always:  Mrs. Jencius (x3), Mrs. Thompson (x2), Mrs. Shevlin, Mrs. Lennon, Mrs. Snyder, Ms. Kaplan, Mrs. Luciano, Mrs. Hobbes, Mrs. Berge, Mrs. Voight, Mrs. Savella, Mrs. Horan, Mrs. Debel, Mrs. Florio, Mrs. Gitman, Dr. Protzel, and Dr. Bonagura. –Lauren & Matthew McHale

**Editor’s Note: All students’ names were omitted for privacy reasons. Entries have not been edited, other than for spelling. All who submitted responses gave explicit written permission to be either fully named, named with first name and last initial, or chose to remain anonymous.  The community was asked to participate through various Facebook groups, including Wantagh Mommas (the original) which was utilized to reach the most parents in Wantagh.**