page top

red arrow bulletNews

School board recognizes staff members who make a difference

Feb. 12, 2018

The Monticello Central School District Board of Education held an awards ceremony at its Jan. 18, 2018 meeting to recognize those individuals who make a commitment to our students and our schools.

Monticello School Board President Stacey Sharoff presented the awards.


Ms. Jennifer Boffa
Nominated by Nicholas Millas, RJK Middle School principal
RJK Middle School teacher Jennifer Boffal gets award from Principal Nicholas Millas and board of education
Jennifer has taken over the backpack program in our building after the departure of the previous advisor. She ran a holiday food drive this holiday season. As an incentive, she put together a game cart for the classes who had the most donations. In her short time in the role, she has developed strong community partnerships in order to secure donations.

















Ms. Mary Ellen Hurley
Nominated by Stephen Wilder, Monticello High School principal
Mary Ellen Hurley accepts a BOE award
Mary Ellen Hurley is one of the greatest contributors to Monti Pride in our building and district. Mary Ellen embodies the caricature of an educator who is waving the school colors; demanding educational achievement from all students; collaborating with administrators and colleagues on improving student outcomes; helping students get in to college; helping students stay in college; supervising Student Council; facilitating professional development; leading the social studies department; giving presentation to the MCSD Board of Education; calling and meeting with parents; encouraging the unsuccessful and celebrating student personal and academic accomplishments; Tweeting pictures, assignments, encouragements, and reminders; juggling a multitude of fundraisers; wearing an assortment of school-pride clothing; attending school sporting events and activities; all while fending off the germs that are attempting to keep her in bed. In short, Mary Ellen needs a shirt and a cape with an “S” on it.

Mary Ellen works endlessly to engage our students in meaningful and relevant learning opportunities that extend beyond the walls of her classroom. Her genuine care and support of students has built bridges that help students know that they are valued and capable of being great. She provides guidance, encouragement (in many forms), recognition, and assistance to our students. Mary Ellen consistently produces ideas that would lead to greater student engagement and school pride. We are very fortunate to have Mary Ellen as part of our school community.

Ms. Tara Komatz
Nominated by Rosemarie Romano, principal, and Melanie Hector, assistant principal, Cooke Elementary School
Tara Komatz of Cooke Elementary receives her board of education award
Tara is exceptionally gifted and talented in the field of teaching. Tara has taught 5th grade math for the past two out of eight years in the Monticello Central School District. Tara comes in early, stays late, attends summer conferences, and works diligently to meet all her students’ needs. Tara has implemented flipped learning through learning stations in her classroom. After seeing the increase in engagement and achievement in her students, she took this initiative a step further and dove deeper by implementing mastery flipped learning in her classroom. She has created an inviting 21st century learning environment where all learners can move around the room freely to meet their comfort level and can learn at their own pace. She took time to create her own teaching videos, learned new apps to support her students learning and worked with the technology specialist to work out the kinks. Now, she models this teaching styles to her colleagues throughout the district. In addition, she participates in a flipped learning support group for her colleagues and offers suggestions for successfully implementing this teaching style.

Tara participates on the Cooke School Spirit committee as well. She helped put together a Fall Harvest dance for grades 3-5. She linked this event with the backpack program by implementing a nonperishable foods item as admission into the dance. This food was donated to our families in need.

Tara took the initiative to seek out Jane Sorensen two years ago requesting a drama club. Jane and Tara worked together to bring this club to fruition. If you could see Tara in action as a drama director, you would be truly impressed. Her positive energy and connection to the students is evident. She provides students an opportunity to come alive on stage. Jane Sorensen, EPIC program manager, said “EPIC is grateful to have her as part of this after school program.

Tara is working to make George L. Cooke School a great place to work and learn both in and out of school. Educators like Tara are extremely valuable and we are very lucky to have her on our team.

Ms. Maryann Swensen
Nominated by Dana Taylor, executive director of Special, Summer and After School Programs
Maryann Swensen receives her board of education award
Maryann has made an incredible transition from the classroom into a school- and district-wide position. It is no easy task to go from staying in place throughout the school day to traveling throughout the building and, in Maryann’s case, the district. Her flexibility and enthusiasm are admirable. She has brought fresh ideas to the TOSA position at Chase such as the Pennies for Patients fundraiser and was the lead in organizing the Life Ready Fair at the MHS. Despite the confusion of traveling and operating on different schedules. Maryann has truly risen to the challenge and exemplifies the type of employee we should all strive to be.










Ms. Jill Yannetta
Nominated by Michelle Knowlton, principal, and Douglas Murphy, assistant principal, Rutherford Elementary School
Jill Yannetta of KLR Elementary School receives her board of education award
I am very proud to nominate Jill Yannetta for a BOE award.

Many colleagues are able to describe how Jill Yannetta contributes to the success of the students at KLR. As the instructional coach she is responsible for planning and carrying out all professional development for the many programs that our staff utilize in the classroom.

Jill also works with the technology department to make sure that Superkids, Wonders, Do the Math, and IXL are accessible for both students and teachers. She works with each grade level to interpret data and come up with action plans to help meet our goal of 65 percent proficiency in reading, writing and math.

In her desire to serve our students, she challenges herself and others to take risks and seek alternatives. In her quest for continued growth, she meets and works with new teachers and struggling teachers. Ms. Yannetta also chairs KLR RTI and sits on many committees.

She goes above and beyond to help raise money for the KLR backpack program, the Tinsel Trot and the Boys and Girls Club. In December, Ms. Yannetta helped plan two fundraisers - “Pantha Claws” and “Decorate a Holiday Cupcake.” She raised over $1,000 through these two events.

Ms. Yannetta brings a high level of energy, insight and expertise to Rutherford. Thank you for everything you do for the children and staff at KLR.

Support Staff

Ms. Mary Buchholz
Nominated by Stephen Wilder, Monticello High School principal
Mary Buchholz from Monticello High School accepts her board of education award
Mary Buchholz is the kind of professional that really is irreplaceable. Her combination of dedicated work ethic, thoughtful completion of tasks, considerate personal demeanor, and fierce determination to do her best is powerful.

Mary Buchholz is an everyday hero who accomplishes so many of the tasks that are necessary for our school to succeed. Whether she is managing instructional coverages, supporting the development of building-wide scheduling, managing the reporting of grades, problem solving school-wide issues to find greater effectiveness and efficiency, or any other task that is integral to our school success, she is resourceful, gracious, kind, relentless, and dependable. Her work ethic has resulted in us being able to continuously improve the service that we provide to our students and our school community.

Mary is a consummate professional who improves the work, and the lives, of others through her efforts. It is with great appreciation that I trust Mary to provide assistance when it is needed. I know that if anyone has a question or challenge, Mary is the kind of professional who will help figure things out. Her resourcefulness cannot be over stated. Monticello High School is fortunate that Mary Buchholz has chosen to serve in its building and we look forward to many more years of her service.

Mr. Ramon Ciprian
Nominated by Nicholas Millas, principal RJK Middle School
Ramon Ciprian from the RJK Middle School, receives his award from the board of education
On Oct. 6, during lunch, a 7th grade student alerted Ray that his classmate was choking. Ray witnessed the student from across the cafeteria gasping for air. The student was grabbing at his throat in distress. He ran to the student and performed the Heimlich maneuver. As trained, he stood behind the student and provided two abdominal thrusts that dislodged the food and saved the student’s life. The student was turned over to the nurses for further care and attention.

Ray continues to serve Monticello Central School District and RJK as one of the most respected members of our staff.










Ms. Jeanne Cyrek
Nominated by Tanya Duryea, director of Pupil Personnel Services
Jeanne Cyrek, a member of the Pupil Personnel Services Department in the district, receives her award
Jeanne Cyrek shows initiative and a clear commitment beyond the normal expectations. Jeanne is a true asset to our district. Her established skillset, positive personality, effective approach to problem solving, and her general fund of knowledge is unmatchable. Jeanne is responsible for fulfilling diverse roles. She serves as our lead Registrar, Medicaid Compliance biller, collector of district data for McKinney Vento, UPK, PPK, and 3PK. Jeanne’s diverse roles requires her to work in a collaborative manner with numerous individuals in all five buildings, our area pre-schools, Transportation, and Central Office. Jeanne’s impeccable daily performance combined with her completion of projects is greater than the average. She works each day with pride and precision. First impressions are lasting and we are grateful that she is the first friendly face that our families meet when registering in Monticello Central School District.


Ms. Sandra Nieto, Ms. Amelia Torres, Mr. David Wright and Mr. Jose Ortiz
Nominated by Michelle Knowlton, principal, and Douglas Murphy, assistant principal, Rutherford Elementary School

I am very proud to nominate our facility staff for their outstanding and professional work. They had 36 hours to make Rutherford Elementary SHINE! for Governor Cuomo’s visit on Nov. 16, 2017. In addition to the governor’s visit, they made sure the classrooms were ready for parent teacher conferences the previous night. Whatever they were asked to do, they quickly completed the task and moved on to the next request. “It was all hands on deck!”

The team:
• Painted the blue trim in the 100 wing and touch up paint throughout the building.
• Cleaned and moved furniture off the stage and in the hallways.
• Moved the cafeteria tables and coolers into the gym lunch.
• Set up the multipurpose room for 250 guests.
• BUFFED the floors and wiped down the walls.
• Broke down the multipurpose room and cafeteria tables after the event.
• And anything else that we asked the whole team to do.

The KLR custodial staff works hard daily and takes pride in our building. Thank you for everything you do to make sure that the building is clean and our students are safe. They made the event run smoothly!

Ms. Kerry Fernandez, Mr. Davon Knight, Mr. Stephon Rivera, Mr. Brian Arroyave, Mr. Nelson QuiƱones, Mr. Curtis Harrington, and Mr. Charles Payne
Nominated by Michelle Knowlton, principal, and Douglas Murphy, assistant principal, Rutherford Elementary School

We are very proud to nominate our KLR Safety Staff led by Nelson QuiƱones as well as our Facilities leaders, Curt Harrington and Charles Payne, for their outstanding and professional work on Nov. 16, 2017 when Governor Cuomo visited Rutherford Elementary to announce the districts award of $1.4 million through the Empire State Grant. The decision was made early on that it would be business as usual, with some minor adjustments to our schedule and location of lunch from the multipurpose room to the gym. At 8 a.m., Cuomo's large staff arrived to prepare for his visit. Our safety staff didn't hesitate to step in to ensure that all the students were safe and that the event ran smoothly.

The team:
• Rerouted all classes through the 300 wing for specials and lunch.
• Checked in all invited guests for the event.
• Escorted all 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes to the multipurpose room for the Governor’s visit.
• Assisted during lunch with moving classes back and forth to the gym.
• Made sure parking lot was safe and secure.
• And coordinated with the New York State Police and Governor’s Office.

Our Safety and Facilities team, are GREATER THAN THE AVERAGE!

Members of the KLR facilities staff and safety team accept their awards from the board of education