Ceremony honors district employees of excellence

Staff members posing for a selfie during the Employee Recognition Celebration at the Palace Theatre.

On Friday, the City School District of Albany spotlighted its employees of excellence and honored staff members who have reached significant anniversary milestones in their district careers.

The ceremony – the Employee Recognition Celebration – was held at the magnificent Palace Theatre in downtown Albany.

Top employees for 2019 were recognized with a series of “apple” awards: Emerald Apples for administrators, Golden Apples for teachers and other professional staff, Ruby Apples for support staff and Sapphire Emeralds for management confidential staff. A single Crystal Award recipient was selected from each of the Emerald, Golden and Ruby apple groups.

In addition to the apple awards, district employees who reached anniversary milestones of 25 years or more were recognized.

Mistress of ceremony for the evening was Spectrum News journalist Tamani Wooley. Albany High School senior and musical sensation Lee Reh exhilarated the crowd with his talents, while Pine Hills Elementary School fourth-grader G'ahnah Skervin led the assembly in the pledge of allegiance.

Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams thanked the honorees for their dedication, and noted that employees in every role in the school district play a vital part in educating students.

"Together, we are all in for Albany!," she said.

Read on to learn the people recognized Friday. You can also view photos from the event here on Facebook.

Crystal Apple winners

  • Golden Apple – Latanya Sumpter, Philip Schuyler Acheivement Academu
  • Ruby Apple – Rosa De La Cruz, William S. Hackett Middle School
  • Emerald Apple – Melissa Hasty, Early Childhood Department

Emerald Apple winners

  • Early Childhood Department – Melissa Hasty, director
  • Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence – April Stokes, assistant principal
  • Elementary Instruction – Sara McGraw, elementary science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instructional supervisor
  • Pupil Personnel Services – Kerri Canzone-Ball, Ed.D., director
  • School Improvement – Michele Bridgewater, director
  • Technology Department – Patricia Wolfe Cordova, data coordinator
  • Tony Clement Center for Education – William Rivers, principal

Golden Apple winners

  • Albany High School – Alicia Abdul, librarian; Elizabeth Bartlett, special education teacher; Earl Davis, social studies teacher; Jeffrey Dring, English teacher; Kristi Freitag, physical education teacher; Alexandria Jameison, English as a new language teacher; Shannon Stevenson, science teacher
  • Albany International Center – Sarah Bizzarro, math teacher; Christina Zontini, sixth-grade teacher
  • Albany School of Humanities (ASH) – Lisa Fruscio, fourth-grade teacher
  • Arbor Hill Elementary School – Patricia Brady, social worker; Shannon Donohue, reading teacher; Richard Gargiula, fifth-grade teacher; Gina Nichols, special education teacher
  • Eagle Point Elementary School – Margaret Shea, school nurse
  • Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence – Shameka Brown-Johnson, sixth-grade math teacher; Victoria DeGouff, sixth-grade English language arts teacher; Lois Gaines, special education teacher; Victoria Martell, behavior specialist; Shedaya McQueen, guidance counselor; Maureen Mickel, librarian
  • Giffen Memorial Elementary School – Herman Calderon, social worker; Shannon Pinkowski, fourth-grade teacher; Maureen Tricozzi, math coach
  • Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center –Jane Figueroa, sub chairperson of Preschool Committee on Special Education
  • Montessori Magnet School – Sara Caradori, school psychology
  • North Albany Middle School – Lisa Leonardo, sixth-grade science teacher; Melissa Parker, sixth-grade math enrichment teacher; Lynette Smith, sixth-grade math teacher
  • Philip Schuyler Elementary School – Latanya Sumpter, second-grade teacher
  • Pine Hills Elementary School – Tanya Randolph, third-grade teacher; Keira Rielly VanVranken, third-grade teacher; Lisa Shine, English as a new language teacher
  • Sheridan Preparatory Academy – Seneka Mitchell, fifth-grade teacher; Scott Sloan, fifth-grade teacher
  • Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School – Michelene Sohnen, speech therapist
  • Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST) – Kimberly Reynolds, music teacher; Kayla Williams, fourth-grade teacher
  • Tony Clement Center for Education – Stacy VanCott, special education teacher
  • William S. Hackett Middle School – Craig Ascher, science teacher; Meghan D’Alessandro, sixth-grade English teacher

Ruby Apple winners

  • Abrookin Career and Technical Center – Maisha Dobbs, hall monitor
  • Albany High School – Maria Christina Assman, teaching assistant; Maria Sifontes, teaching assistant; Sharae Wright, office manager
  • Arbor Hill Elementary School – Rachid Walker, hall monitor
  • Delaware Community School – Paul Berghela, hall monitor
  • Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence – John Clements, hall monitor
  • Giffen Memorial Elementary School – Kenny Griffen, home school coordinator
  • Montessori Magnet School – Elnora Baker, teaching assistant
  • New Scotland Elementary – Stacy Gazda, teaching assistant; Kiear Tucker, hall monitor
  • Pine Hills Elementary School – Darnell Murdock, hall monitor
  • Pupil Personnel Services – Telisa Cain, typist
  • Sheridan Preparatory Academy – Maurice Bickley, hall monitor; Lisa Campagna-Kissane, teaching assistant
  • Technology Department – Robert Barber, senior technology support specialist
  • Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology (TOAST) – Angel Ferguson, hall monitor
  • William S. Hackett Middle School – Rosa De La Cruz, teaching assistant

Sapphire Apple winners

  • Lisa Finkenbinder, school lunch director
  • Stephanie Primero, director of business operations

Milestone recognitions

The following people will celebrate their 25th year in the district in 2019-20:

  • Ana Banda-Wemple 
  • Judith Collins
  • John Dowdell
  • Lois Gaines
  • Rosalind Gaines-Harrell
  • Elizabeth Gialanella
  • Loren Green
  • Lionel Harris
  • Beverly Hayes
  • Kathleen Higgins
  • Lynn Huba
  • Sheryl Huntley
  • Brenda Mangan
  • Christine Moore
  • Cheryl Robinson-Abdellaoui
  • John Rosenzweig
  • Laura Scotto
  • Scott Sloan
  • Shannan Smith
  • Deborah Whipple
  • Evelyn Wood

The following people will celebrate their 30th year in the district in 2019-20:

  • Mary Anziano
  • Kathleen Banagan
  • Edith Banker
  • Lisa Campagna-Kissane
  • Timothy Castle
  • Amy Cunningham
  • Deana Del Signore
  • Kathleen James
  • Edward Kearnan
  • Susan Klimchak
  • Ronald Mattice
  • Jonathan McClement
  • Karyn McKenna Barry
  • Susan Roberts
  • Heidi Sabatino
  • Stacey Spilman
  • Fernando Tovar
  • Maria Wislous

The following people have been a part of the district for more than 35 years, and will celebrate the following milestones in 2019-20:

  • Josephine Amore (37)
  • Frazell Cunningham (53)
  • Jo-Anne Dillenbeck (35)
  • Sharon Stott (40)

Sponsors of the event were district community partners SEFCU and the Palace Theatre. Also contributing to the event was the Waldorf Tuxedo Company.

Congratulations to the amazing and hard-working City School District of Albany people recognized on Friday!