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Massapequa Honors ‘Shining Stars’

Two Massapequa School District staff members and a longtime PTA volunteer were honored for “Shining above the Rest” during SCOPE Education Service’s 13th Annual School District Awards Dinner.

The non-profit organization — known for providing educational support services to school districts — presented a SCOPE 2013 Award of Excellence to Unqua Elementary School teacher Kira Wilkens, social worker Joanne Waters and PTA Council President Allison Prystupa in recognition of their exemplary service to education.

“I am delighted to see these members of our Massapequa family in the spotlight for their contributions to our district and our students,” said Superintendent Lucille F. Iconis. “They are truly dedicated and talented individuals who shine brilliantly as models of educational excellence.”

Wilkens is credited for heightening her instruction through her experience as an attendee and Fellow at Harvard University’s Project Zero educational program and for helping establish a Project Zero professional learning community by managing workshops, meetings and a website.

“Kira Wilkens embodies what it means to be a Massapequa educator,” her nominator wrote. She is an “advocate for student success who stays current on best teaching practices and translates them into meaningful practice.”  

A clinical social worker for more than 30 years, Joanne Waters’ impact on the Massapequa School District and the community has been described as profound.

“Her commitment to counseling, crisis intervention, and the creation of powerful educational and prevention programs has helped hundreds of students overcome difficulties in their lives, and, as a result, she has given them a better chance of succeeding in school,” according to her nominator.

Known by her colleagues as a devoted professional who is “always willing to go the extra mile,” Waters developed the Chiefs Challenge Club, a student club that promotes kindness, respect and civility, and has been central to many programs, such as the Red Watch Band training sessions, which teaches students to identify and respond to alcohol-related emergencies, and the Too Good for Drugs program and Awareness Week, which promote health, wellness and good-choices, among many others.

Allison Prystupa has taken on many roles in PTA, including Special Education parent member, SEPTA President, PTA Executive Vice President, PTA Council First Vice President and PTA Council President.

Described by her nominator as “a tireless and selfless worker who has devoted many hours to the children and staff of Massapequa Schools,” Prystupa always attends School Board meetings and school functions, and has organized committees and fundraisers.

“She advocates for the needs of the district both within and outside of the school system,” her nominator wrote, “and has been an integral supporter of the district’s Best Buddies program,” which pairs special needs students with regular students who help them improve their social and daily life skills through various activities.