It's a Wrap for Superintendent
Superintendent John J. Finello has been associated with the Huntington School District for so long it's hard to imagine him not being around when the new school year begins next September. The longtime educator was sent off into retirement with a celebration in his honor at The Head of the Bay Club on Wednesday.
A series of speakers paid tribute to Mr. Finello's 39-year career and his commitment to the community and its young people. Several current Huntington School Board members were on hand, as well as incoming trustee Jennifer Hebert and former trustees Robert T. Lee, Michael McKenna, Linda Guido and Richard Oehmler.
Mr. Finello's association with the district has spanned 52 years. His entire K-12 education occurred in district schools. Mr. Finello graduated with Huntington's Class of 1968 and he returned four years later to begin a teaching career. He eventually moved into the administrative ranks and was named superintendent in July 2001.
"It's been a wonderful run," Mr. Finello said. "I've been fortunate to work with so many good people over the years. I am grateful to all of my students, their parents and my colleagues. We have had a lot of fun along the way."
A series of speakers at the party paid tribute to Mr. Finello's career. Senator Carl Marcellino, Assemblyman James Conte, Town Board members Mark Cuthbertson, Susan Berland and Glenda Jackson and County Legislator Jon Cooper were on hand to offer their congratulations.
The crowd included a large contingent of retired teachers and staff. "It was so nice to see so many of the people I've worked with over the years," Mr. Finello said. The outdoor terrace was filled as party-goers took advantage of the sensational weather and breathtaking view of Huntington and Northport Bays.
Mr. Finello was joined at the party by his wife, Sheila, son Joseph, daughter Kristen and brother Chas. Another daughter, Leslie, who works in Manhattan, was unable to attend.
The Associated Teachers of Huntington, the professional organization of the district's teaching corps, presented Mr. Finello with a framed painting depicting a harbor scene. "We love you, Jay," said Georganne White, ATH vice-president. "We are really going to miss you. You showed us respect."
Mr. Finello said he considers himself a teacher, first and foremost. "I spent 17 wonderful years in the classroom," he said. After he joined the administration, he looked for ways to interact with students, including classroom visits or stops in the library, gym, cafeteria and playground or by attending plays, concerts, athletic games or PTA events.
Vicki Mingin, Huntington's executive director of special education and student support services, served as the party's master of ceremonies. She recalled a series of funny incidents involving Mr. Finello's career and praised the educator for his dogged dedication to students across the spectrum.
"Huntington is a very challenging place to work, but it also a very rewarding place," Mr. Finello said. "I want to thank the community for accepting and supporting me all these years. I gave my best effort and am proud of what we were able to accomplish by working together."