As she contemplated her 19 years in the Island Park School District following her retirement, longtime Superintendent Dr. Rosmarie Bovino said she was pleased with all that administrators accomplished over the years, despite the many challenges they faced.
“Every year has been more rewarding than the one before,” said Bovino, 67, of Merrick. “Whether I’m with children and teachers in a classroom, parents at a concert, administrators in a safety drill, board members at a business meeting, staff members in the office, construction workers at a flood restoration site or local officials in a government office . . . I feel most fortunate to have derived both satisfaction and happiness from my life’s work.”
Bovino retired on Aug. 31. Vincent Randazzo, the former assistant superintendent, was appointed superintendent at the Sept. 1 Board of Education meeting, and Dr. Alison Offerman-Celentano will take on his former role as assistant superintendent.
In a letter to Bovino, which Board of Education President Jack Vobis read at the Aug. 17 board meeting, trustees wrote that she “led with passion.”
“You guided our ship through every storm,” the letter read, “including floods, hurricanes and even a pandemic. We are eternally gratefully for your leadership and salute you for standing with us through thick and thin.”
Bovino has been an educator for 43 years. She was principal of the Chinese International School in Hong Kong, where she managed typhoon recovery, and then director of studies at Friends Academy, in Locust Valley, before coming to Island Park. She started in the district as assistant superintendent, then became deputy assistant superintendent, and was appointed superintendent in 2009.
She cited Hurricane Sandy as a significant time in her career.
“I will always remember the assistance we received from Monsignor [John] Tutone, who opened the Parish Center to the entire community shortly after Superstorm Sandy,” Bovino said. “The darkness filled with light thanks to the back-up generator father operated so we could meet to develop a strategy for saving our schools and saving all three island communities of Island Park in the process.
“We shared a vision, we worked tirelessly together,” she continued, “and we recovered.”
After the storm, Bovino helped pass major bond referendums in 2013 and 2017, which helped repair both Francis X. Hegarty Elementary School and Lincoln Orens Middle School.
Bovino also started the district’s universal, full-day pre-kindergarten program in 2014. Additionally, she spearheaded the creation of a Spanish program for all kindergarten through eighth grade students in the district, as well as a wealth of other updated, 21st century learning programs for students, including scientific technology, social-emotional learning and expanded English as a Second Language.
During her time as superintendent, she also advocated for the Island Park community in its ongoing battle with the Long Island Power Authority over tax revenue.
With Covid-19 shuttering school buildings in March, Bovino faced challenges all the way up to her retirement — she implemented new, online communication practices as students shifted to remote learning. Now, as children return to school this week, Randazzo has taken the reins.
“Mr. Randazzo is bright, capable and talented,” Bovino said. “With the help of the new assistant superintendent, Dr. Alison Offerman-Celentano, and our wonderful faculty and staff, the district will move forward in many new and exciting ways.”
Bovino will continue teaching at Queens College of the City University of New York, where she has been an associate professor in the Department of Educational and Community Programs for the past 15 years. She has lived in Merrick since 1976. She said in retirement she will also enjoy time with her husband of 48 years, Art, and their children, Arthur and Emily, and their grandson, Gus, 3.
She said she was grateful for her time in Island Park, despite facing many obstacles along the way. “I believe the community came to know me, and I came to know them,” she said. “Whether faced with good times or bad, we worked together to ensure the best educational opportunities for the students of Island Park.”