Herricks says goodbye to Celano, welcomes new super

Herricks says goodbye to Celano, welcomes new super
Herricks Superintendent Fino Celano will be retiring from his position this June. (Photo courtesy of Herricks Public Schools)

An hour-long meeting by the Herricks Board of Education involved a moment of silence, multiple goodbyes and recognitions for staff and faculty in the last gathering of the 2021-2022 school year.

Beth Seltzer, a teacher assistant at Herricks High School since 2006, recently died due to illness. Board President Henry Zanetti held a moment of silence at the beginning of Thursday’s meeting. 

“Beth will be remembered as a very kind and thoughtful person who was always willing to go above and beyond for the students in her care,” Superintendent Fino Celano said in a press release. “We are very grateful for her years of dedicated service, kindness and professionalism; she will be sorely missed.”

Members of the Board of Trustees said their goodbyes and farewells to Celano, whose last meeting was Thursday. Celano, who has been in charge of the district since 2015, is retiring June 30 following a 44-year career in education. 

“I personally want to say thank you from me, my wife, my four children and the people in my world who you’ve touched in a variety of different ways,” Trustee Jim Gounaris said during his report. 

“This is a very bittersweet meeting for us. You’ve been a blessing to our district and we are forever grateful to you for bringing so many wonderful changes,” Trustee Juleigh Chin said of the outgoing superintendent. “You didn’t ever let us rest on our laurels—you pushed us every step of the way to make us better and be the best versions of ourselves that we can.”

Celano thanked the board and community for all the district was able to accomplish during his tenure and said Herricks has been the highlight of his career. 

“The way we were able to achieve so much was by working together as a group. I’m very grateful to all of our parents, faculty, staff and our great administrators because we were able to really move forward with that important model of continuous improvement,” Celano said during his last report. “The greatest asset that we have at Herricks are the students and I am so incredibly proud of them and the work that you as parents have done to develop them and the work that our faculty or administrators have done. It’s truly everybody working together.” 

Celano will be replaced by Tony Sinanis, who will take over the district July 1. Celano said the two have been talking as part of the transition process and will continue to do so. 

Sinanis joins Herricks with a quarter century of educational experience under his belt. He most recently served as the assistant superintendent for human resources and leadership development in the Chappaqua Central School District, which serves Chappaqua, Millwood and parts of Pleasantville and Mount Kisco in Westchester. Sinanis has been in his current role since 2018.

Previous stops include superintendent for Hastings-on-Hudson School District, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Plainedge School District and principal in both the Jericho and Valley Stream Central districts.

During Sinanis’ eight years as principal at Jericho’s Cantiague Elementary, the school was named a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School and 2015 Model School.

His honors include being named the 2014 New York State Elementary School Principal of the Year, the 2014 National bammy Award Elementary School Principal of the Year and co-authoring three books on branding, development and leadership.

Sinanis will step into the 4,000-student district that just had its $125.3 million budget passed on May 17. Over the next fiscal year, the district will undergo capital renovations and expansions to social-emotional learning programs and instructional technology.

Since Celano became superintendent in 2015, the district has consistently been highly rated.

In the U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 list of best high schools, Herricks High School placed No. 38 in New York and No. 327 throughout the whole country among public high schools.

As a district, Herricks was ranked No. 7 on Niche.com’s list of best school districts in New York, according to their most recent rankings.

In unrelated district news, Thursday night was the last meeting as board president for Trustee Henry Zanetti, who said he was privileged to be in the role for the last two years.

“It’s been very interesting, it’s done a lot to enhance my experience on the board,” Zanetti said. “I’m happy that we made so much progress.”

Zanetti took the presidency from Trustee Juleigh Chin during the COVID-19 pandemic. Accomplishments include overseeing the Herricks reopening plan and capital improvements through the district.

Herricks Middle School math teacher Josephine Bruno was recognized by the board for being named Teacher of the Year by the Nassau County Mathematics Teachers Association “for the talent and creativity she brings to her classroom.”

The board also approved a personnel report that partly included appointments of Lily Ho to become the assistant elementary principal of Denton, replacing Beth Roseman, and Thomas Sposato to become the district’s director of pupil services, replacing Lois Jankeloff. 

The next meeting for the Herricks Board of Education will be held on Friday, July 1, with the board’s re-organization meeting beginning at 10:30 a.m. before beginning a regular meeting at 11 a.m.  

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