Sullivan County School Boards Association honors Martin Colavito, Ann Hazelnis with awards of excellence

The Sullivan County School Boards Association is honoring two members of the Monticello Central School District family for excellence and honoring their dedication to the school and greater community.

Ann Hazelnis, an English teacher at Monticello High School, will receive the Outstanding Educators Award from the group. Martin Colavito is receiving the Outstanding Friend to Education Award.

Neither is a surprise to those who know these individuals and their work.

Martin Colavito

Last summer, the district took the steps to create a community schools program. The vision was to provide programming on a multi-generational level: after-school programs for students, parent and adult programming, even providing access to social/emotional programming, tele-medicine and dental opportunities for the community. The programs are diverse and serve a diverse cross-section of our community. The district’s ideas were grand but who would pull it all together?

A man with light and dark gray hair wearing glasses laughs as he talks to another man and a woman.
Martin Colavito

Enter Martin Colavito. He stepped up and did what he does best. He reached out to those who could make the many programs happen. He’s brought together the Nesin Cultural Arts, Cornell Cooperative Extension, YMCA, My Brother’s Keeper, Sullivan County Youth Bureau and the Sullivan County Public Health Services, to name a few.

The result – The St. James St. Hub is named right. It truly is a community hub, with programs and activities for all ages, from the district’s younger students to the community’s most senior citizens. Some of the youth programs have grown beyond capacity. In large part because Mr. Colavito networked and got the word out.  

“Marty is a community organizer whose heart is 10 times larger than the norm,” said Lori Orestano-James, president of the Monticello Board of Education. “He loves this community and that’s evident everyday through the work he does. Without Marty’s leadership, none of this would have been possible. He is the truest example of what giving back to our school and community is all about. We are so lucky to have him in our community.”


Ann Hazelnis

Graceful and giving. Supportive and astute. Transformative and committed. That is Ann Hazelnis to her students, her colleagues, her friends and family.

For all of her 33 years in teaching, Mrs. Hazelnis has served the Monticello community as an English teacher at the high school. In the classroom, she is known as one of the most organized and thoughtful educators. Her organization is purposeful, providing accessible pathways for her students, whether it is to turn in assignments, pick up missing work or obtain materials they may be lacking.

A woman with brown hair smiles
Ann Hazelnis

She is always available to her students and has an astute awareness of how to meet their needs, from their hunger for learning to sometimes simply their hunger. Mrs. Hazelnis inspires students and her student outcomes reflect her dedication to helping every student succeed in all aspects of their lives.

Mrs. Hazelnis is instrumental in coordinating many important programs: freshman orientation, panther camp, graduation, to name a few. She jumps in whenever needed, even volunteering her time during a particularly severe storm, helping our students in an after-school programming, all while demonstrating a calm and reassuring demeanor.

“Every day she changes the lives and transforms the futures of our students through her thoughtful and intentional efforts,” said Monticello High School Principal Stephen Wilder. “Ann is deserving of this recognition. We are all better people for having the privilege of serving alongside Ann Hazelnis.”

“It is teachers like Ann Hazelnis who make Monticello the special place that it is,” said Orestano-James. “Her dedication to her students – this entire community really – makes her one outstanding example of our Monti pride. I am amazed at her awesomeness and so grateful she is receiving this much-deserved honor.”

The Sullivan County School Boards Association will be present the awards in the fall.

Click here for a video tribute to Mrs. Hazelnis from Monticello High School Principal Stephen Wilder.