Even when she found herself in the midst of unforgiving pain, Christine Amodeo Palmer was able to summon enough strength to smile and laugh for her students and colleagues. The Huntington School District librarian was a fighter and she battled breast cancer with every ounce of energy she could muster before passing away on June 13, 2015. She was 41.
The Associated Teachers of Huntington, the professional organization of the district’s teaching corps vowed to present an annual scholarship to a graduating senior in honor of Mrs. Palmer’s career and service to the community. The ATH intends to sponsor the $1,000 award for a ten year period.
Mackenzie Joseph plans to study business at the University of Virginia.
The 2019 scholarship was presented to senior Mackenzie Joseph, a remarkable young woman who is headed to the University of Virginia to study business entrepreneurship.
ATH President James Graber presented the prestigious scholarship to Ms. Joseph during the high school’s senior academic awards ceremony in the auditorium.
Named a Distinguished Senior last spring after compiling a spectacular academic record over the past four years, Ms. Joseph was also a wonderful athlete, winning more than three dozen medals with the Blue Devil track and field team.
Respected by her teachers and coaches and beloved by her classmates and teammates, Ms. Joseph was a member of the Huntington High School National Honor Society chapter.
Ms. Joseph said the key to her success “has been remaining grateful in the face of challenges.” She believes that a strong education leads to “better opportunities” and she’s determined to fulfill her potential and achieve all of her goals.”
A multiple year National History Day award recipient, Ms. Joseph also excelled in pole vault and triple jump for the Blue Devil track and field team.
Just like Ms. Joseph, Mrs. Palmer was equally cherished by her faculty and staff colleagues. A 1991 graduate of John H. Glenn High School, she earned a BA in English at SUNY Oswego in 1995 and a Master of Library Science at SUNY Albany in 2000. She also obtained a professional certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in 2004 and engaged in substantial post-graduate studies.
Mrs. Palmer came to Huntington in 1998 when she was hired as a teacher aide. She returned as a substitute librarian in March 2001 and was appointed to a full time position at Woodhull School in September 2001. She later split time between Flower Hill and Washington Primary Schools.
The happy librarian was a smiling and positive force around school and was viewed as the consummate professional. “Her love for literature, reading and her children were apparent when you walked into her library classes,” said one longtime colleague. “She ran a tight ship, expected a lot from her students and gave more back to each and every one of those lucky enough to have her as a teacher.”
Mrs. Palmer’s mother, Jacqueline Amodeo worked in the district as a special education case aide for 15 years. Many still remember her for the dedication she displayed to her students and her devilish sense of humor and fun loving ways.
Always interested in how she could improve the library experience for her students, Mrs. Palmer secured a Huntington Foundation Star grant in the amount of $11,400 in 2007. Science Connections provided monies to acquire two polycoms and lab sessions for fifth and sixth graders via videoconferencing with New York Hall of Science instructors. It was state of the art stuff and could be intimidating for a person unfamiliar with this type of technology.
While faculty members knew that Mrs. Palmer’s condition was extremely serious, they were nevertheless devastated to learn she had passed away. The veteran educator had a loyal group of faculty colleagues who are determined to keep her memory alive and who consider themselves blessed to have called her their close friend.
Mrs. Palmer left behind her husband, Jim, a New York City police officer and her bright and beautiful son, RJ (short for Robert James), who she was fond of calling her “little man.” He’s 7½ years old now.