Message from the Superintendent March 20, 2020

A Message from the 
Spackenkill Superintendent

March 20, 2020

Dear Spackenkill Community,

Mark Villanti

Last Thursday I met after school with a few staff members and high school students to answer questions about the school schedule and the virus. Little did I know at the time how quickly the landscape would be changing by Friday afternoon.

What was their greatest concern? It was less about the prospects of getting ill from the virus and more about missing out on the prom, school activities, classes, and interscholastic athletics. Our way of life, because of social distancing, has changed more than we could have imagined. How long will it be like this? How long will school be closed? I really don’t know, but far longer than I could ever have imagined that Thursday afternoon.

For the next few weeks we are going to dispense with our typical newsletter format and focus on basic information that we believe you need to know. So let me list some of those now:

  • Remote Learning Workload:  Teachers will continue to work remotely until we are advised by governmental authorities that it is safe to return to school. Teachers were expected to prepare two weeks’ worth of work, however, given the uncertainty, many completed much more than that.  For example, no one is expected to complete a 117-page study guide in two weeks. Our intent is to provide a certain level of normalcy for your children and as much as possible a continuity of instruction. I know that when I'm working in my normal routine, life looks a lot better. Some of your children might need some guidance from you on what is reasonable to complete.

     We have high regard for the professional judgment of our staff and we have advised them to have expectations of work being completed but also to demonstrate a certain degree of flexibility and sensitivity. Every child is different.

  • Social/Emotional Needs of Students: We are also concerned about the social/emotional needs of our children and teens. Counselors will be contacting some students to check in on them. However, if you have specific concerns about your child, feel free to email the principal and/or the respective counselor/psychologist/social worker.

High School

Principal Steve Malkischer:
Counselor Rebecca Chaoussoglou-Rotter:
Counselor Kathleen DeFreest:
Counselor Adam Hammond:
Psychologist Deirdra Maguire:
Social Worker Tracie Phillips:

Middle School

Principal Dan Doherty:
Counselor Mary Camburn:
Counselor Kristen Gil:
Psychologist Kate Casucci:

Social Worker Joanne Shaffer: 


Hagan Principal John Farrell:
Nassau Principal Erik Lynch:
Psychologist Duane Tolomeo:

Hagan School Social Worker Joanne Shaffer: 
Nassau Social Worker Melissa Coyle:

  • Contacting the Superintendent: If you have any district-level concerns, you may email me directly at or I will be working every day at the District Office, even though the office is officially closed. Where possible, I have encouraged people to work remotely, with the exclusion of any essential duties that need to be completed in district.

  • Religious Observances: The change in calendar affects Passover and Good Friday. It doesn’t seem realistic that we will have school that week, however, if for any reason we do, any religious observance is a legal absence from school. 

  • Medication: If any parent who has left medication in the nurse’s office requires it returned, please contact your building principal directly by email.

  • Food Distribution at Todd: Lisa French, our food service director, has reached out to some 300 eligible families concerning free and reduced breakfast and lunch to see if they wish to continue the program over the school closure. Thank you for those who have responded. We are distributing food at Todd outside on a scheduled basis for eligible families. If you are eligible and have not responded as of yet, please email Ms. French at

  • Childcare: We have been in contact with the county to see if there is a need for childcare for children of essential medical workers, first responders, and other helping professions who reside in the Spackenkill District. We are considering a partnership with Honeybee. If you are a medical worker, first responder, or other qualified essential worker, please send me an email: or In the meantime, please visit this link to learn of nearby locations of emergency childcare: 

  • Livestreamed Board Meeting: We are going to hold our Board meeting(s) on our normal schedule using remote technology as much as possible. The buildings are not open to the public, however the meeting(s) will be livestreamed on the homepage of and recorded for anyone who wishes to view. You will be able to email in questions and the Board will respond to the best of their ability during the meeting:

All county superintendents will participate in a conference call with County Executive Marc Molinaro this Tuesday. If I learn more about the extent of the closing, I will send out a notice.

art student
It seems almost trite for me to say that this is an unbelievable experience for all of us. History is being art show studetnsmade, the impacts of which we don’t fully understand as of yet. But I do know this: This is a great community and our staff and, families will pull together. We will get through this and what we consider some level of normalcy will return. I just can’t say when. One of our art teachers, Sharon Ciccone, sent me this week some photos and examples of student artwork. It was heartening to see the faces of children and the beauty in their artwork. I am including a link to her webpage and encourage you to take a look.  I’m also including a couple of photos of some very happy faces, which we miss dearly and hope to see them as soon as possible.


Mark Villanti

Mark Villanti, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools



15 Croft Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603; 845-463-7800