By Denise Nash
Tony Sinanis, principal and “lead learner” at Cantiague Elementary School in Jericho, was selected as the 2014 New York State Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.
Sinanis has served in his current position at Cantiague for the past six years, in which time he has been credited for creating an environment of trust, transparency, and exceptional dedication to each and every student.
When asked about his philosophy for creating an opportune environment for teaching and learning, Sinanis stated, “I wanted the students to trust that I would advocate for them. I wanted the staff to trust that I would consider their perspectives when making decisions. I wanted the families to know that I would love and take care of their children as if they were my own.”
Jericho Superintendent Hank Grishman said that Sinanis has expanded the traditional role of the principal and is viewed as a master teacher. “Tony spends a majority of his time in the classrooms interacting with both the teachers and students. Students in Cantiague Elementary School are actively involved in their education,” said Grishman. “Tony is an expert in literacy and the results are readily apparent. He has also incorporated technology into his school community in a seamless fashion. Parents don’t ask their children what they did at school today, they already know by following Tony’s twitter account, which allows for deeper conversations between parents and their children.”
Sinanis has been described by colleagues as “a maverick in using social media and electronic communications,” extending his professional learning network for the benefit of all and “flattening the walls” of the school to parents and community. Parents have responded. “He is playing outside with the children every recess period,” said parent Lisa Davis. “He is in the classroom, sometimes teaching lessons! He is with our children at their highest highs, and at their lowest lows. They seek him. He embodies a perfect balance of skill and heart.”
Sinanis will be honored for his accomplishments at an awards ceremony on May 9 at the Century House in Latham, New York. As New York’s Elementary School Principal of the Year, Sinanis will be celebrated as a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals at a recognition program sponsored by NAESP and VALIC this fall in Washington, DC.
“Tony is a well-respected presenter who is sought after locally, on a State level and now even nationally. He also won the National Bammy Award in 2013 as the Elementary Principal of the Year,” Grishman said. “Through all the recognitions, through all the activities, his focus and priority is always HIS children.”