Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees, as the policy-making body, promotes the welfare of the school, especially in the areas of finance, fund raising, and public relations. The Board is composed of parents, former parents, and selected members of the community. The Board meets monthly, except for July and August, during the third week of the month, at the school. For the 2013-2014 school year, the members of the Board of Trustees are as follows: Chairman; Judah Samter, Vice-Chair; Corey Stein, John Loester, Richard Russo, Gene Curry and Patrick Kane.
Judah Samter, Chairman
Mr. Judah Samter is the parent of current student Moshe, who has attended Vincent Smith School since 2011. He and his wife Bayla have five children. Mr. Samter is an active member of the South Shore community and has been involved with many major development initiatives for the local special education programs, and local synagogues. He was instrumental in raising the required funds to help build a state-of-the-art playground for the Hebrew Academy for Special Children-Woodmere campus, which was designed to accommodate the special needs of their students. He was also involved with the fundraising and development of a local South Shore Synagogue (BKNW) and has served as a member of the Board of Trustees and chaired the Synagogue’s Youth Department.
Mr. Samter is currently a Senior Vice President at Capital One Bank. He joined the bank in October 2009 and currently serves as the primary point of contact for the bank in selling distressed commercial assets throughout the United States. He is responsible for fostering and strengthening key real estate banking relationships for the bank, including real estate funds, investors, developers and brokers.
Mr. Samter holds a Bachelors degree from Yeshiva University and a Masters degree from New York University with a concentration in Real Estate Finance and Investment (2006).
“Bayla and I have been touched by the commitment the teachers and the administration of the Vincent Smith School (VSS) have shown to our son Moshe. He continues to make progress academically and socially, and we attribute his growth and development to the wonderful staff at VSS.”
Corey Stein, Vice-Chairman
Growing up the son of a Business Owner and a Special Ed Teacher on Long Island, Mr. Stein was instilled with a solid work ethic and understanding of the importance of education and perseverance.
"My breadth of experience in the business community servicing high net-worth clientele, provides me with knowledge to help the Vincent Smith School to succeed." After selling his business interests in 1993, he became a Financial Consultant at Dean Witter, moved to Merrill Lynch and is currently a First Vice President, and Senior Investment Management Consultant at Morgan Stanley in Jericho. Mr. Stein's team, The Annunziato, Maniscalco & Stein Group, empowers their clients with advice and opportunities such as Special Needs Planning, Wealth Transfer Planning, Financial Planning and Asset Management.
Corey and Tamara married in 1992; have a daughter Rebecca, and son Harrison, who started in the 5th grade at Vincent Smith School in 2010. "
As a parent who is aware that his child may not excel to his fullest in a public school environment, I believe it is imperative that we have our son Harrison enrolled in Vincent Smith School where he receives specialized and focused instruction. The smaller classes provide a social enriching and nurturing environment. I became a Board member to help facilitate the continued growth and prosperity of Vincent Smith School with guidance and expertise in philanthropic and financial planning."
In his spare time Corey enjoys golf, watching the NY Giants, Rangers and Yankee games with Harrison, personal training, and playing with his 2 Labrador Retrievers.
John Loester has been actively involved at Vincent Smith School since his daughter began attending as a fifth grader. Mr. Loester’s commitment to the school led its trustees to ask him to join the Board in 2005 and he has been faithfully serving the VSS community since then.
Despite the professional demands that come along with being a busy ABC Television executive, Mr. Loester always finds the time to volunteer at the school’s events. He and his wife Pat, who served as PTA President, are never far away when the school is in need of a helping hand. Whether it’s an Open House, the Thanksgiving Feast, or the annual Scholarship Brunch, they lend their time, talent and monetary support to each event.
Mr. Loester shares the Board’s vision to increase enrollment in an effort to allow more Long Island and Queens’ students with special needs to experience a supportive atmosphere that applauds a child’s ability to learn differently.
“Learning is the key component,” said Mr. Loester. “It is an educator’s job to ensure that learning happens for every child. Teachers at Vincent Smith are focused on supplying each child with what they need individually to be successful. That is what contributes to VSS being such a special place.”
Rich Russo and his wife Laura made several visits to the Vincent Smith School before realizing that the traditional education system was no longer viable for their daughter, and enrolled her into the school. Since then, their daughter Victoria has been showing, realizing, and feeling her true potential.
A major goal of Mr. Russo is to help others see the benefits of making alternative and specialized teaching and learning methods work for their child, as it has helped his. His plan is to increase financial security and enrollment, by increasing the awareness and prominence of the school, and its benefits to others.
Rich has been working at Northrop Grumman Corporation for over 25 years, currently as a manager in Product Support Systems Engineering. His community service includes participating in the Board of Directors of his local Little League, as well as being a member of the VSS PTA. He extends his hand to the school by organizing an annual VSS family outing, helping with events, and participating and discussing the benefits of school on Admissions Open House days.
“The Vincent Smith School is a place where the administration, staff, and faculty extract the student’s capacity by patiently providing the careful individualized attention they need. VSS goes far beyond academics; the children become enhanced with confidence, self-advocacy, and awareness as a result of being and discovering in this environment.”
Mr. Curry is married; his wife Judi is an attorney at Harris Beach, PLLC in Manhattan; they have two teenage boys. In 1985 he graduated from St. John’s University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in psychology. His first working experience led him to Young Adult Institute, where he worked as a supervisor of a group home for Dual Diagnosed clients. He later received his Master’s degree at Long Island University in Secondary Education. He taught Social Studies for over ten years at Sacred Heart Academy. Mr. Curry eventually made the difficult decision to suspend his teaching career to become a full time parent to assist his special needs son.
The challenges and triumphs for parents of children with special needs is something Mr. Curry has experienced firsthand, both as a teacher and as a parent. “It is a process of development for the parents as well as for the child,” said Mr. Curry. The most rewarding aspects of that process can only be achieved through the cooperative effort of students, parents, teachers, and administration. That commitment towards creating an environment of collegiality is a priority at Vincent Smith which has had an immediate and lasting impact on Mr. Curry.
Equally as important to members of the Vincent Smith School community is to foster a safe and supportive environment for the students. “It is apparent to me” Mr. Curry observed, “that there is sense of relief for both parent and child when they first come to this school. In that moment, the real opportunities can begin to be met.” As a member of the board of directors Mr. Curry is eager to be a part of this environment. He is particularly excited to extend his expertise as a teacher and father to help meet the challenges of the new millennium. Developments in curriculum, pedagogy, and technology require students, parents, and teachers to be prepared to adapt in the usage of these tools. As the community of Vincent Smith rises to meet these new challenges, Mr. Curry is eager to participate in meeting this communities needs providing a stepping stone for our children to enter society as the vital participants.
Patrick Kane and his wife Connie have two sons attending the Vincent Smith School. Derek is in the tenth grade and Brett in the seventh, both starting in 2012. The public school system that both boys were enrolled in was not meeting their special needs and each has shown fantastic progress at the Vincent Smith School.
Mr. Kane has spent his career in Information Technology sales for companies such as Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks. Mr. Kane is currently employed at Gigamon, selling technology solutions to companies in the New York Metro area. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from St. John’s University.
“We are proud that our sons attend the Vincent Smith School. The progress they have made and the self-confidence they exude increases each day. My goal is to be an ambassador for VSS and inform others of how the Vincent Smith School has had such a positive effect on not only Derek and Brett, but our family overall. When others told us the future was hopeless, the Vincent Smith School embraced our family and we once again have hope.”
The administrators for the 2013-2014 school year are as follows: Arlene Wishnew, Head of School; Lisa Oosterom, Controller; Grace Avigliano, Director of Special Education; Lauren Rosario, Director of Education and Michelle Hughes, Director of Marketing/Development.
Head of School
After more than 30 years, Arlene Wishnew approaches each day at Vincent Smith School with the same enthusiasm she did when she drove on campus for the first time. Mrs. Wishnew joined the VSS staff as a lower school classroom teacher before accepting multiple responsibilities as a remedial reading teacher and high school English/math teacher. She later moved up the ranks to principal before assuming the responsibility of Head of School.
I am extremely proud of our ability to provide a place for children that allows them to feel safe, nurtured and motivated to succeed. Many of our children were not exposed to such an environment prior to coming to Vincent Smith School. While more than 85% of our students go on to college and others on to post high school vocational programs, I believe that number would be much lower for our children had they remained in a traditional setting. The level of support we provide to our students is incomparable. It is borne out of the fact that each of us is genuinely concerned about the welfare of our students. I have always believed that only if my students succeed, can I myself be successful.
Mrs. Wishnew is an active member of the educational community and several professional organizations, which include, but are not limited to, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Nassau Counselors Association, the Long Island Association of Special Education Administrators, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, CHADD, the International Dyslexic Association, and the Clamdiggers (Heads of School on Long Island). Mrs. Wishnew received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CW Post College.
One might wonder what there is left for Mrs. Wishnew to accomplish. But after 30 years, she has no plans of riding off into the sunset. “This school has done great things, but there is still work to be completed. In the coming year, I want to refine the curriculum and further incorporate technology into the learning environment.”
Director of Special Education
As Director of Special Education, Mrs. Grace Avigliano coordinates and liaises between school district Committee on Special Education (CSE) departments, related service providers, families, and Vincent Smith School faculty to ensure that all students receive a far ranging academic and social program. She coordinates Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and keeps faculty members apprised of all students’ IEP needs, goals, and accommodations. Mrs. Avigliano also coordinates, oversees, and supervises all school testing, such as PSAT, SAT, ACT, Stanford Diagnostic, Midterm and Final Examinations. She has provided her colleagues with various staff development lectures in the practical methods used in the teaching of and behavior management of students with individualized learning needs and collaborates with teachers and specialist on creating and facilitating multisensory curricular instruction and assessments.
Throughout her tenure at Vincent Smith School, Mrs. Avigliano taught in the Lower School Program, authored numerous differentiated multisensory curriculums, co-created Vincent Smith School’s Self-Advocacy and Mentoring Program, was a founding member of the School Wide Positive Behavior Intervention Support Committee, and developed the Social Opportunities and Academic Remediation (S.O.A.R.) Summer Program.
Mrs. Avigliano holds a M.S. Ed. in Special Education from Long Island University and is a permanently certified special education teacher (N-12). She is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, Long Island Social Emotional Literacy Forum, Friends of the Seaford Public Library, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Southeast Nassau Guidance Center.
Director of Education
Mrs. Lauren Rosario taught middle school Social Studies and English/Language Arts at the Vincent Smith School for twelve years prior to becoming the Director of Education. During that time, Mrs. Rosario had been Advisor to the Student Council and Yearbook Staff. Under her leadership of the Student Council, Vincent Smith School students were featured in Newsday’s FutureCorps for their “Toys for Tots” Drive. Student Council held numerous fundraisers to purchase items for the school’s campus. Mrs. Rosario also guided students and coordinated our school’s digitally-produced yearbook for the past seven years. In addition, Mrs. Rosario initiated a school-wide community-building project to create our annual “Cabaret” Talent Show.
Throughout the years, she has also served on several committees, and continues to motivate and support learning using multisensory teaching approaches and differentiated instruction. Her dedication and commitment to Vincent Smith School students is easily recognized. Mrs. Rosario is also a Professor at Nassau Community College where she instructs Teacher Education courses. Mrs. Lauren Rosario holds a BA in Education/History from Queens College, an MS.Ed. in Special Education from Long Island University C.W.Post, and is pursuing an Advanced Certificate Ed.D. in School Leadership at Queens College. She is a member of The Council for Exceptional Children and Association of American Educators.
Prior to coming to Vincent Smith School in 2011 Mrs. Oosterom has held positions of Controller with the Nassau County Museum of Art and the West Hills Montessori School. At her last position as Director of Finance & Operations with the non-profit organization, Parents for Megan's Law & The Crime Victims Center, she was responsible for overseeing the finance and accounting systems, purchasing, payroll, budgeting, annual audits and receivables and payables. Mrs. Oosterom holds a BS in Business Arts Management from SUNY Old Westbury and a certification from NYU in Arts/Non Profit Administration. Some of her responsibilities at VSS include financial reporting, budgeting, purchasing, payroll and receivables and payables.
Director of Marketing/Development
Prior to coming to the Vincent Smith School, Michelle was the Manager of Marketing and Program Expansion at Abilities, Inc. at The Viscardi Center. Previous positions include marketing and advertising positions with public and privately-held organizations, including advertising agencies in both New York and Los Angeles.
Michelle holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and Fine Arts from Hofstra University. In her new role, Michelle will be responsible for leading and managing the overall development efforts of the school, managing and implementing all marketing and advertising initiatives, including print and social media, managing the annual giving campaign and cultivating major gifts in addition to other initiatives.
Vincent Smith School is staffed by close to 20 New York State certified teachers who are highly trained, qualified, and dedicated to the philosophy of the school.