PTA Honorees Chosen

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The Glen Cove Council of PTAs will hold its annual Community Scholarship Fund event at the Brookville Country Club on Sunday, March 13, beginning at 12:30 p.m. This year’s honorees are Chris MacDonald, Stefanie Liptzin, Damon Garner, Mark Checola, Maria Rivera Hlatky, Vincent Martinez and Denise Reynolds. The event will feature a performance by the high school jazz band and a basket raffle.

The Glen Cove Community Scholarship Fund was founded in 1958 and annually administers funds in the form of scholarships to deserving Glen Cove High School seniors. All proceeds will be donated to this fund. The Diamond Club Scholarship event gives each PTA unit an opportunity to honor a member of their community. The honorees are chosen from each PTA unit’s school administrators, faculty and staff, PTA members, parents and school volunteers or any individual who has brought a positive effect to the schools and to Glen Cove.

The honoree from Deasy PTA, Chris MacDonald attended Plainedge High School, where he earned “All-County” for varsity soccer and wrestling and MVP in varsity tennis. After graduating, he pursued and completed an associate’s degree, majoring in physical education at Nassau Community College. While at NCC, he earned All-American Honors as a starting member of the 2x Regional Champion Tennis Team. He graduated from NCC and transferred to the College of Mount Saint Vincent. At CMSV, MacDonald played three seasons of soccer and one season of tennis as captain and MVP for both sports. He has been teaching in Glen Cove for nine years. He started in 2007 as a permanent substitute teacher in Glen Cove High School and worked many years as a part-time physical education teacher and substitute. In Glen Cove, Chris has led many District Games, paneled NCAA nights, served on the athletic committee, ran second-grade sports nights, Field Days, attended booster balls, supervised S.A.L.T. trips and volunteered to work football chains. He was nominated by the senior class of 2012 to be the faculty speaker at graduation. Currently he is in his sixth year as the varsity wrestling coach, his seventh year as the boys varsity tennis coach and fifth year as the girls varsity tennis coach. This is his third full-time year at Deasy School as a physical education teacher. During his time in Glen Cove, MacDonald also worked toward and completed his masters degree in health education from Adelphi University.

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Mark Checola

Mark Checola, the honoree from Gribbin PTA, was born in Glen Cove, attended Landing Elementary, Finley Middle School and Glen Cove High School, graduating in June of 1984. During that time, Checola was lucky enough to have the help of many wonderful educators like Carl Lapointe, Sal Travatello, John Polatschek, Cathy Gorden, Terry Swenson and Vinnie Chopard. It was here in Glen Cove where his love of sports developed. Playing baseball, football, lacrosse and hockey became part of his daily schedule. After graduating from GCHS, Checola worked for Covino Electric in Glen Cove and Roslund Brothers Construction Company in Locust Valley, where he learned the value of hard work, responsibility and punctuality. After attending Nassau Community College in the fall of 1985, he continued to earn a teaching degree in physical education from Hofstra in 1990, while also playing three seasons of ice hockey for the university. In the spring of 1990, he was an unpaid assistant to Steve Tripp in the lacrosse program, when Sal Travatello and Michael Perricone hired him to replace Bill Douglas as the P.E. teacher at Connolly School. Since then he has served as the adaptive physical education specialist in Glen Cove, as well as having taught regular P.E. in every school with the exception of Landing. Now in his 26th year as a teacher in Glen Cove, he is completing his 11th year as Gribbin School’s primary P.E. teacher, where he is lucky to work for a wonderful principal alongside an excellent staff. From 1999 to 2004, he was a member of the physical education faculty at Hofstra University, teaching courses in adventure education. As he enters the last decade of his career, he said he is proud to call himself a lifelong member of the Glen Cove Schools community.

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Stephanie Liptzin

Stephanie Liptzin, the honoree from Landing PTA, is a fifth grade teacher at Landing Elementary School. Liptzin lives in Plainview with her husband, Scott and two children, Matthew and Tyler. Liptzin knew that she wanted to become a teacher at a very young age. She will never forget the first chalkboard that her parents bought for her so she could play “teacher” to all of her stuffed animals. Understanding her desire to work with children, she began volunteering to help young people within schools. After graduating from Syosset High School, Liptzin went to Binghamton University, where she received her bachelor of science in human development and education. She was able to graduate in three years so she could continue her route to becoming a teacher and immediately went for a master’s degree in elementary education. Liptzin has been teaching for six years and every year falls more in love with her career. She is always looking to instill a thirst for knowledge and a love for education within each of her students. Liptzin hopes the boys and girls that enter her classroom each year will leave and accomplish their dreams, like she was able to do.

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Damon Garner

Damon Garner, the honoree from Connolly PTA, is a lifelong resident of Glen Cove. He is the son of Sharon Johnson and the oldest of five boys. He also has three half-brothers and one half-sister. He graduated from Glen Cove High School in 1993, where he was a standout two-sport athlete:  a four-year varsity football player and three-year varsity basketball starter. Garner earned All-County honors in basketball in his junior and senior year and was Honorable Mention All-County in football those two years as well. After high school, Garner attended Virginia Union University, where he played football, and he returned to Glen Cove to finish his degree at Nassau Community College. Garner is the proud father of four: Marissa, a junior at SUNY Farmingdale; Tajah, a sophomore at Nassau Community College; Devin, a senior at Glen Cove High School and Damon Jr. who is currently a seventh- grader. Garner works for Locust Valley School District and also for the City of Glen Cove during the summer months. In his off hours, Garner volunteers the majority of his time working with the children of this community. He is a board member for Glen Cove Jr. Football & Cheerleading, where he has served as a coach for more than 15 years. He has coached and umpired in the local baseball and softball program over the past 20 years and co-directed the St. Pat’s CYO Basketball program for many years. He has also coached in the St. Hyacinth CYO travel basketball program. Currently Garner, is the coordinator of the City of Glen Cove Jr. Basketball program, which is in its third season. More than 200 Glen Cove children on 20 teams are participating this year. Often described as a gentle giant, Garner possesses both heart and character as big as his physical stature. He is a positive role model for two generations of youth in the community, determined to ensure that they live right, do well in school and become productive citizens.

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Maria Hlatky

Maria Rivera Hlatky, the honoree from R.M. Finley Middle School PTA, came to New York from Puerto Rico when she was 5 years old and is the oldest of three siblings. For 20 years she worked in the financial, real estate and marketing industries. Hlatky has raised three daughters: Aliza, Jouleni and Franmarie. Although retired, she is a full-time mother. Moving to Glen Cove in 2009, after living in Queens, her PTA involvement began. Serving as a PTA officer for six years in Glen Cove, Hlatky is dedicated to creating positive experiences for students. Now in her third year on the Robert M. Finley Middle School PTA Executive Board, Hlatky was elected president of the PTA. She is thankful for the collaboration with parents, believing that kids benefit when everyone works together. Hlatky is a volunteer for CAPS, child abuse prevention services; a committee member of SAFE Coalition in Glen Cove; Bullyproof Project; a Girl Scout leader; a Rosarian and an advocate/member of the NEA’S BULLY FREE: IT STARTS WITH ME (National Education Association). Hlatky is passionate about making a difference and standing up for causes: children, education and equality. Her goal is to create a legacy of kindness and generosity and to make an impact on the betterment of the community by helping others. She credits her family, husband Dennis and her daughters, for all of their support, without which, “she would not be able to do any of this.”

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Vincent Martinez, Jr.

Vincent Martinez, Jr., the honoree from Glen Cove High School, was born and raised in Glen Cove. After high school he worked in the auto body field. He then enlisted in The United States Marine Corps in 1983. After serving his country he came home to his high school sweetheart Mary. Martinez joined The City of Glen Cove Volunteer Fire Department in 1986 and in 1988 Vinnie and Mary were married. Together they have three children: Brian, 24; Kevin, 21 and Lauren, 18. In 2002, Martinez was elected 3rd Asst. Chief of the GCVFD and Chief of Department in 2008 and 2009. In 2013, Martinez also joined The City of Glen Cove Volunteer Emergency Medical Service. He became active in the Glen Cove High School Booster Club, where he worked on numerous fundraising committees. In 2010, a committee was formed to build a new concession stand by the high school track; Martinez was instrumental in getting this long-awaited project completed, with the help of many volunteers. Martinez is currently employed by the City of Glen Cove and is the supervisor of all city buildings.

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Denise Reynolds

Denise Reynolds, the honoree from SEPTA, has been an educator in Glen Cove schools for 11 years, teaching in Connolly and Landing Elementary schools. She has substituted in each of the district’s elementary schools and Finley Middle School and currently proctors college entrance exams at Glen Cove High School. In addition, Reynolds has worked for the Glen Cove Youth Bureau and the After 3 Program. Prior to her career in education, she was employed by the New York Jets football team for 13 years. From 2008 to 2015, Reynolds served as president of the Glen Cove Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA). She is currently vice president, responsible for various fundraisers with local businesses, including Clay Nation and Glen Cove Cinemas.  From the proceeds, SEPTA provides scholarships to graduating Glen Cove High School seniors and moving up gifts to graduating second-, fifth- and eighth-graders each June. Reynolds has been a Glen Cove resident for 30 years. In that time, she was a Girl Scout leader for 13 years; she and her troop collaborated with Glen Cove Beautification, participating in annual beach and seasonal cleanups, as well as flower and bulb planting events. The proud mother of daughters Amanda and Jessica, Reynolds has been married to her husband Greg for 23 years. She enjoys camping, swimming, and spending time with family and friends.

Any support of items for baskets or an ad placed in the event journal are welcome. Tickets to the event and lunch are $80 per person; raffle books (six tickets) are available for purchase for $5 each and you need not be present to win a basket. Grand prize baskets will also be available at the event. For further information, contact Tina Braja, 516-759-0265.

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