Island Park School District presents 20th annual SOAR awards


At the first Board of Education meeting since the Island Park School District began the new school year, Superintendent Dr. Rosmarie Bovino presented two teachers and a support-staff member with awards for their exemplary performance.

The 20th annual SOAR awards were given to teachers Christine Chu and Kathy Garfield, as well as Jamie Varrichio, receptionist and clerk-typist. These award recipients meet a wide range of criteria, including a display of innovation, support beyond the classroom and participation in volunteer activities and professional development.

According to Bovino, Chu began working in the Island Park School District as a computer teacher at Lincoln Orens Middle School in 2002. Among her many duties, Chu manages two computer labs, facilitates the technology needed for events and programs and organizes an annual trip to the New York Hall of Science.

“Most notable among Mrs. Chu’s accomplishments as a teacher is the Cornell University/National Science Foundation Science Fair’s Virtual World’s program that she brought to Island Park,” Bovino explained. “Through this program, Mrs. Chu teaches complicated concepts and computer programming effectively.”

Chu has had an instrumental role in the implementation of the new iPad program in the middle school, Bovino said, and she has taught courses to her colleagues on the use of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SMARTBoard and Go Green.

“Mrs. Chu’s commitment to showcasing the District and its programs is unparalleled,” Bovino said. “She always has budgetary requests a mile long. It is sometimes a challenge to harness her enthusiasm, despite reductions in revenue.”

Garfield, who has been in the district since 1985, is a special education teacher and has worked in both the middle school and Francis X. Hegarty Elementary School. In addition to teaching for special-needs students, Garfield has served as proctor for New York State Assesments and has been a summer support teacher, a member a number of committees, including the Special Education Committee of the PTA.

“Mrs. Garfield is described in numerous classroom observations as having a warm, patient and caring manner with all her students,” Bovino said. “She makes it a priority to keep everyone informed and works to find solutions to situations before they become problems.”

While working in the district, Garfield earned her Master’s degree from Adelphi University and received her permanent certification in special education, and she has received many commendations on her performance in the classroom.

“She is respectful of the different ability levels and cultures of her students,” Bovino continued. “In addition, Mrs. Garfield is consistently outstanding as a communicator with parents and administrators.”

Varrichio began working in the district in 1986 as a monitor at the main entrance of the middle school, until, in 1993, she began working in the Business Office, where her main duties are to greet and direct visitors and to manage the main telephone switchboard. This year, Varrichio has had to take charge of the implementation of the district’s new fiber optic phone system, transferring old numbers and assisting with the creation of automated messages.

Bovino said that Varrichio is also a talented proofreader and is recognized and loved by many of the families in the district.

“Finally,” Bovino added, “I would be remiss if I did not mention how grateful I am to Mrs. Varrichio for her calm and caring manner and her level of commitment to the children and parents of Island Park that goes far beyond what is expected of her. Mrs. Varrichio is a counselor, detective, confidante and real-time GPS navigator, par excellence.”