The wall of portraits of former Skaneateles School District superintendents in the district office increased from three to four Tuesday night, June 19, as outgoing superintendent Phil D’Angelo had his likeness added to the group. The event was only one part of a night of community and district honors and farewells for D’Angelo before he leaves next week for Long Island to become superintendent of the Wantagh Union Free School District.
A farewell reception for D’Angelo was held in the early evening Tuesday, during which community members, district staff and past and present board of education members offered the outgoing superintendent good wishes. Later that night, the board of education honored D’Angelo with comments and a gift during the board’s regular meeting.
“It was a nice cross-section of the community at the reception, and it really validated my experience here at Skaneateles,” D’Angelo said. “I certainly understand that many people could not come out because of other commitments, but many people have called me, emailed or stopped me in the halls and streets to wish me well. It makes me feel good about everything I tried to accomplish here.”
D’Angelo, who has been superintendent of Skaneateles for nearly seven years, resigned in early May to take the position at Wantagh. His official last day in Skaneateles is June 30, with his formal start in Wantagh scheduled for July 1.
At the public reception in the High School Commons, which featured refreshments and music from high school musicians, D’Angelo was kept busy receiving compliments, goodbyes and hugs from numerous people.
“It was always nice that Phil came into the classroom on a regular basis, the kids got to know him and he was always interested in what we were doing,” said Janet Fagal, a retired Skaneateles teacher who worked in the district for more than 30 years. “Great leadership starts there I think.”
Community member and former president of the Waterman Elementary School PTC, Kristin Rossi, said she was “always impressed” by D’Angelo’s efforts and “many trials” as the head of the district. “He is just a nice man who worked hard for our district. I am here to wish him well and give him a nice send off,” she said.
Former Skaneateles Mayor Bob Greene lauded D’Angelo as being proactive, available and always supportive of the village when the municipality and school district worked on common endeavors. “It was just cooperative government at its best. He’s going to be missed — it will be a tough pair of shoes to fill,” Greene said.
Former board of education member and president Irene Stafford, who worked with D’Angelo for four years and was on the committee that originally interviewed and hired him, called him “a great asset to the school. Our challenge to him [when he was hired] was to take us to the next level, and he did that and much more. I’m going to miss him.”
Stafford also spoke during the community comment period at the board of education meeting that evening, offering a long list of accomplishments D’Angelo made while he was superintendent, including initiating school-to-work internships, mandating AP exams, hiring primary school guidance counselors, creating the Skaneateles Education Foundation and reducing the district budget without teacher layoffs.
“I think we have something to be very proud of, and certainly Phil does too,” Stafford said.
Also at the BOE meeting, board members offered their thanks and kudos to D’Angelo, including retiring member Michael Card, who read a statement he found about what makes a great superintendent, and ended by saying, “I can’t thank you enough for the job you’ve done here for six-and-a-half years.”
BOE President Evan Dreyfuss then presented D’Angelo with his official superintendent’s portrait, which will hang in the Carl W. Gerst, Jr. Board of Education Room in the district office alongside portraits of the other three past superintendents.
Dreyfuss also presented to D’Angelo with a framed photographic portrait of Skaneateles Lake, taken by local photographer John Francis McCarthy, as a farewell gift privately purchased and presented from all the members of the school board.
D’Angelo, visibly moved by all the tributes, thanked all the board members for the gift.
D’Angelo was not the only one singled out at the June 19 board meeting. Also honored were retiring Waterman Elementary School Principal Marianne Young, and retiring BOE members Michael Card and Kate Cogswell.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.