Laura Alicastro is a retired administrator who served the Brentwood community for 33 years. Brentwood is the largest suburban school district in New York State. She was principal of Hemlock Park Elementary School for 17 years and assistant principal at Northeast Elementary School for 3 years. Prior to her tenure as an administrator, Ms. Alicastro was both a special education resource room teacher and self-contained teacher. After many years in the classroom, her leadership was recognized and she was assigned the position of teacher on special assignment where she worked side-by-side with the special education department administrators in all facets of program and curriculum development. In retirement, she has substituted for administrators in various building level and central office positions as well as currently serving as chairperson for the committee on special education.
While principal, Hemlock Park Elementary was recognized as a high performing/gap closing school and an International Reading Association’s exemplary reading program award finalist. She launched the UPK program at Hemlock Park as well as promoted literacy by becoming a Teachers College Reading and Writing Project school. Ms. Alicastro served on the Brentwood principals and supervisors executive board for 10 years.
Ms. Alicastro earned an associates in applied science degree from SUNY at Alfred in human services, a bachelor of arts degree from Boston College in elementary and special education, a master of arts degree from New York University in counselor education, and a master of science degree in special education and a professional diploma in educational administration from Long Island University, C. W. Post College.
Karen Bronson is currently the director of professional development for the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). In that role, she develops and often delivers professional learning in many forms to over 7,000 school leader members around the state. A former assistant to the superintendent, principal and secondary teacher of English, Karen has a commitment to teachers, leaders, and students and sees strong innovative partnerships in professional learning as the way forward. Karen is a frequent presenter around the state on diverse topics for educators and has presented at Oxford University’s Education Research Symposium on the topic of effective feedback in the observation process.
Dr. Dawkins has been an educator for 40 years, 25 as an administrator. He retired from the Rensselaer City School District in 2010 after serving as middle and high school principal for 21 years. Prior to that, he served the Cohoes City School District as an assistant middle school principal and social studies teacher.
During his tenure at Rensselaer, Dr. Dawkins was recognized as the Capital District School Development Association’s (CASDA) Principal of the Year in 2004. He was a member of the board of directors for the Greater Capital Region Principals’ Center for 17 years, serving as its chairperson in 2003-2004.
Currently, Dr. Dawkins works as a regional representative (Region 5), APPR specialist, and negotiator for SAANYS. In addition, he works as a college supervisor of student teachers for Siena College. He is a trained facilitator for SAANYS’ mentor/Coach Program and has conducted mentor/coach workshops on Long Island and in the Capital Region.
Danielle (Danny) Dehm is an established member of the educational community in the Rochester region. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from St. Bonaventure University, an M.S. in Learning and Behavioral Disorders from SUNY Buffalo, a C.A.S. in Educational Administration from SUNY Brockport, and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Ed.D. Executive Leadership program at St. John Fisher College. In addition, she completed the Superintendent Development Program through SUNY Oswego.
Danny has coached and mentored many area leaders through her work with SAANYS, University of Rochester, as well as individual districts who have sought her expertise. Past recognitions include the SAANYS McClelland Award, the Region 11 Elementary Principal of the Year Award, the NYS Elementary Principal of the Year Award, and finalist for the Victor Chamber of Commerce Women of Excellence Jikohnsaseh Award.
I am the current secondary level associate principal for the Cambridge Central School District. In this role I am responsible for discipline, test scheduling, RTI and support teams, and also hold a CSE co-chair position at the secondary level. Prior to this role I taught art at the secondary level for 22 years. I have taught many art courses, including advanced placement art. Early in my career I taught ceramics at Avila College in Kansas City, Missouri. I recently completed my SAANYS Mentor Coach training and am working as a mentor for the elementary associate principal in our district.
Tom Mangano has dedicated his entire professional life to the field of education. His career path began in the East Meadow School District where he served as a junior and senior high school English teacher. After completing his leadership studies at Hofstra University and participating in the Hofstra/Cornell Management Program, he filled a variety of leadership positions that included elementary assistant principal, curriculum director and principal of The Meadowbrook Elementary School, a New York State school of excellence. During his tenure as curriculum director, Tom served as the chairperson of the East Meadow Middle School site selection committee, consultant to WNET’s educational forum, Learning-Link, presenter at the New York State Education Department forum on values education, and has initiated a variety of initiatives that support shared engagement on all levels of the school community partnership. His doctoral dissertation, A Taxonomy of Kindergarten Intervention Programs, was published in the first-edition of Long Island Education Review and served as a blueprint for Tom’s educational mission statement during his tenure as building principal.
Currently, Tom is serving as director of student teaching and clinical field experiences for the department of English as well as lecturer in the department of educational leadership, at Stony Brook University. Using the best practices that inform student learning as a benchmark, Tom has mentored new teachers and administrators who are who are now successfully part of the growing professional circles that are crucial components of any educational setting.
Jay has been an educator for over 37 years and has extensive experience as a middle and high school social studies teacher, assistant principal, department chair, alternative high school director and junior-senior high school principal.
A proud alumnus of the New York City public schools, he graduated from Jamaica High School where he then went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts with honors from Binghamton University, a Masters in curriculum development from the University of Illinois-Chicago and completed his educational leadership training at the Queens College Graduate School of Education.
Jay’s 11 years as a successful social studies instructor included teaching assignments in Chicago, West Hempstead and Huntington school districts. His 23 years as a building leader began as an assistant principal at Long Beach and then Shoreham-Wading River High Schools. As a principal, Jay was appointed to his first position at Connetquot High School, eventually moving on to Patchogue-Medford and finally completing his career at Cold Spring Harbor Junior-Senior High School.
He is especially proud of his building-wide initiatives which led to improving the academic performance of special needs students as well as opening the door for under-represented student populations to advanced placement and honors programs. In addition, he was honored to serve as chairperson on numerous middle states and tri-states visiting accreditation teams to schools throughout the New York City Metropolitan area.
Jay is currently an adjunct instructor at Long Island University, C. W. Post College for the department of educational leadership and administration. Jay teaches courses in administrative leadership, school law, curriculum and supervision, building leadership, introduction to education administration, and data construction and use. Since 2000, Jay has presented at the National Association of Secondary School Principals Annual Convention and other various county and statewide venues.
I began my teaching career in 1975 when I taught English at Jamesville-Dewitt Middle School. For the next 12 years, I continued teaching English in the Liverpool Central School district at the seventh and ninth grade levels. In 1987, my career took a turn in a different direction. I became an elementary administrator in Liverpool whose main role was to support the efforts of teachers and parents whose children received special needs services.
Three years later, I moved to a principalship at an elementary school in the North Syracuse SD and remained about three years until I was offered a parallel position in Liverpool. After serving in that role for the next 17 years, I retired in 2010. A few years later, I was offered a position as a regional representative with SAANYS and have since co-represented administrative units in Region 10 (central NY). In addition, this past school year, I was able to fulfill a professional goal and work as a coach with three local administrators. This was a year-long venture that was both a satisfying and rich learning experience for all.
In my humble opinion, the greatest impact a school can have on its children happens when teachers and all staff members work as a unified team to support kids’ learning. The building administrators who help teachers and other staff to focus on that mission create the kind of learning climate that is positive and productive for every stakeholder in the school community.
For the past 25 years Shelley has created learning opportunities for students, staff and colleagues to improve student achievement and engagement through the use of technology by improving instructional practices. She has been a practicing administrator for the past 20 years implementing programs and building teams to be effective and efficient.
Her roles and responsibilities have been unique. She both plans with educators for instructional solutions and then designs the technical infrastructure to support instruction and administrative computing. She has woven the two areas to create environments for learning and build the technical infrastructure that is sustainable. This includes not only hardware and software but staffing. Her vision has led to the creation of computer networks that are innovative and responsive to the needs of educators to be flexible for the varying demands required for student, administrative and staff success. This is also coupled with a strong instructional vision.
Michele Shirkey retired after 35 years in education as the elementary school principal at Greenlaen elementary in the Bainbridge Guilford CSD for the last 15 years. Prior to that position she was a teacher, school counselor, and school administrator. During her career she was awarded the region 8 teacher of the year, NYSCLSA administrator of the year, and a recipient of the SAANYS Leadership and Support award. Michele is currently a student leadership trainer, student leadership advisor trainer, and member of Rotary and host parent.
Bonnie has been an educator for over 38 years as a former K-12 principal for instructional support and planning, director of elementary education, elementary principal, curriculum specialist, and teacher. She has been responsible for leading, designing, and implementing district-wide professional and curriculum development programs and services. While serving as director of elementary education in a newly merged district, Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School, she led the closing and opening of schools. As principal of the Golding Elementary School, the NYS Commissioner of Education recognized the building as a High-Achieving Gap Closing School. Dr. Tryon has served on the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) as a Zone Director and as president of her state association, School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). In 2007 she was named New York State Elementary School Principal of the Year and a National Distinguished Elementary School Principal. Her doctoral dissertation Assessing the Collaborative Conversations Between MentorCoaches and School Administrators won the 2013 NAESP Ernest L. Boyer Dissertation Award.
She now serves as the SAANYS Mentor Program Coordinator and as a NAESP and SAANYS trained mentor coach and trainer of mentors, having worked with mentees new to school leadership roles and veteran leaders moving in to new positions in rural, suburban, and urban settings. As the lead author for SAANYS’ Mentorcoach Services and Professional Growth Circles plan documents, Bonnie puts the core tenants of these programs in to practice as she works alongside the dozens of school leaders she has coached over the past eight years.
Dr. Tryon represents school leaders on NYS Education Department’s Committee of Practitioners for ESSA, the NYS Teacher of the Year Council, and the SAANYS Governmental Relations Committee.
Bonnie’s expertise is in instructional leadership through the development of mentorcoaching programs and curriculum and instructional design. She has presented to local, state, and international audiences.
Mark Turner has been an educator for over 35 years, 25 years as an administrator. He holds a BA degree in elementary education & sociology, a MS degree in counselor education, and a MS degree in educational administration. He is the author of numerous articles published in SAANYS News & Notes as well as the Vanguard magazine.
As a school administrator, Mark has held the title of elementary principal, director of curriculum and staff development, adjunct professor, and supervisor of student teaching. He has conducted and implemented professional development and school improvement planning opportunities for K-12 staff and district leaders. He is trained and experienced in strategic planning and organizational development. He was the president of the School Administrators Association and served on the executive board of SAANYS. He also chaired a statewide steering committee for the establishment and launching of the SAANYS mentor coaching program for school administrators.
Mark has coached and mentored many leaders in the Rochester area through his work with SAANYS, Brockport College, and St. John Fisher College. Mark is a trained mentor/coach and has conducted mentor/coaching workshops and facilitated individual and group mentoring for numerous administrators. He has presented at local, state, and national workshops on mentor and coaching, social and behavioral programs, and instructional leadership and design.
Currently, Mark works as a SAANYS region 11 representative, guiding and supporting administrators in the western New York area. He also supervises student teachers at St. John Fisher College, and consults in schools throughout New York State and Florida.
Karen Urbanski is a recently retired administrator. She served in the Rensselaer City School District for 33 years as a social studies teacher, dean of students and principal for 18 years at the middle and high school level. Karen earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the State University of New York at Albany. As an administrator in a small district, Karen was afforded many leadership opportunities and experiences. She worked closely with her faculty to develop strong academic programs at both the middle and high school levels through collaboration and team work resulting in improved academic performance and a significant improvement in the graduation rate.
While principal at the middle school, Karen was recognized by the Capital Area School Development Association’s as Principal of the Year. As an active member of the Principals Center Board, Karen worked with the board to provide support for aspiring and new administrators, and networking opportunities for those in the field. Karen received training as a mentor coach in 2012. Currently, Karen serves on the SAANYS Region 6 Board and has recently agreed to serve as the retiree representative for Region 6.