Joy and Reflection at Amityville Convocation

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Hundreds of staff members in the Amityville Union Free School District returned with energy and enthusiasm on Aug. 29 for the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. Board of Education trustees, administrators, teachers and staff members came together for Convocation at Amityville Memorial High School, which served as opportunity to share ideas before students arrived the following week.

Superintendent Dr. Mary T. Kelly noted that Amityville is “a district that never sleeps” with numerous summer activities involving both teachers and student including special education and feeding programs, sports camps, curriculum writing and professional development workshops. She introduced new teachers and staff members, and thanked the dedicated custodial and secretarial staffs for their hard work in getting the buildings ready to open for the new school year.

The district enters its fourth year of its Strategic Plan, and Dr. Kelly explained that Amityville is making significant strides in three areas: academic achievement, school culture and climate, and family and community involvement. 

“We have the data to prove that our investment and efforts are paying off – to the benefit of our kids and our community,” she said. “We are well on our way to putting ‘Amityville on the Map’ – our vision for becoming a high-performing school district.”

Dr. Kelly said that those achievements are because of the hard work of every staff member in the district. She reminded them to come to school every day with the goal of making a difference in the lives of children. 

“Every single one of us has tremendous power to positively impact the life of a child, every day, in countless ways,” she said. “This is a tremendous opportunity and an awesome responsibility. This is our purpose, this is our passion, this is our mission, this is our reason for existence as a school system.”

Dr. Kelly led a moment of silence for Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School teacher Marc Engler, who passed away during the summer and had taught in Amityville for 20 years. High school guidance secretary Brooke Brown, a former secretary at Park Avenue, presented Principal Robyn Santiago and Assistant Principal Melissa Wiederhold with a shadow box honoring Mr. Engler. It included a picture of him celebrating his birthday – because he was known for remembering everyone’s birthday – and an engraved plaque.

“It is fitting that we begin this new year in the spirit of Marc’s kindness, care, and unwavering commitment to the children of Amityville,” Dr. Kelly said.

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Bryant Marks, the founding director and chief equity officer of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity, and an associate professor of psychology of Morehouse College. His dynamic presentation, “Acknowledging and Managing the Hidden Biases of Good People: Implications for K-12 Educators and Administrators” analyzed the implicit biases in people based on overexposure and how to overcome those biases in their professional life. Following his presentation, he hosted breakout sessions for faculty members from each building.