By Colleen Meosky
Mrs. DeSantis has been an assistant principal at East for seventeen years and has made herself a familiar, friendly face. However, in this year of COVID learning, it’s been harder for students to see the lady whose voice is the morning announcements. I spent a few minutes with Mrs. DeSantis to ask her more about her position at East and what she enjoys doing outside of work.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
“I grew up in Fredonia, New York, and I moved there in fifth grade. So I went to Fredonia High School. I was a Fredonia Hillbilly, and after that I went to Cortland State, and I majored in health education.”
When you were a student, what was your favorite part of high school?
“The social aspect. I used to tell everyone I wanted to go into education because I loved high school so much I wanted to stay there forever.”
How did you first enter your career in education?
“So I got my masters in Phys Ed from Canisius. So that made me more marketable and be certified in both Health and Phys Ed, and I landed my first position at Pembroke Central School. It was a 7-12 building, and I was teaching both Health and Phys Ed, and coaching swimming and soccer, and doing a whole bunch of things in the school district.”
What’s your favorite thing about East?
“I love the openness…I can see teaching and learning in action everywhere we go. I love being able to see the kids walk by, even just wave or say hello. It just makes it so much easier to connect with kids.”
Why do you think the position of Assistant Principal fits you so well?
“Oh, does it? I think because I like connecting with the kids, and I like the opportunity to create the conditions for teaching and learning to happen. So everything from teacher evaluations to even student disciple, we’re clearing the path for students to be able to learn in classrooms or in the building, then I think that’s good. I think all of us as administrators are approachable, and that makes it easier to get students to comply with the rules. I think our atmosphere also helps kids to behave, so that doesn’t make the discipline of the job so terrible. I think everybody understands that we have a certain standard, and they live up to that. We all have to play along and do the right thing. I really like the kids.”
This year has clearly been a challenging time. What have been the bright spots for you through all this?
“What’s changed for us, ’cause certainly we’re dealing with the minutiae of students in the building, remote kids…The bright spots have been getting into classrooms and seeing it working. Seeing how kids on the screen and the kids in person are actually interacting and connecting, I think we were all very nervous about how this was going to work, but once we opened it up, it started doing it. Yeah, there were some rough patches. But overall, it’s working. It keeps getting better because people are trying new things. Teachers are getting the feel for it, kids are getting the feel for it. I think it was really just let us trial and error. And everyone’s been so patient, and amazing things are happening.”
If you could swap places with anyone in the school for a day, who would it be and why?
Mrs. DeSantis would choose to be a senior to simply experience the school day and hang out with the other kids.
What’s your favorite food?
“Turkey dinner like Thanksgiving dinner.”
What do you enjoy doing outside of East?
Mrs. DeSantis stays true to her Physical Education background and enjoys taking time to do plenty of exercise. She snowshoes with her husband, competes in triathlons, and joins her family to be active around their lakehouse. She once did a sixty mile bike ride with her sister, although she says it’s not for everybody. Mrs. DeSantis has a few goals for this year including paddleboarding the shoreline, running the surrounding roads, and swimming the length of Lake Rushford.
She said,“Yeah, so I tend to do this with the new year. Set some crazy goals because that’s how I work best. I’m better when I have a goal in front of me to achieve it.”
What’s an item on your bucket list?
“I’ve never been to Europe, and I’d like to go to spend some time traveling Europe when I retire and have time to do that.” Mrs. DeSantis said that she’d especially enjoy visiting Italy to go outside her comfort zone.
What’s one thing you want East students to know about you?
“I think that I’m OK, that I’m approachable. I think sometimes Assistant Principals get a bad rep that they don’t want to talk to you, or don’t want them to know your name or who you are. I’d like to change that around, and make sure the kids know that I do want to know them as people. It’s not all about being in trouble when you talk to someone here in the office.”
What’s your favorite pizza and wing place?
“By far it’s La Hacienda in Niagara Falls. Yeah, I lived in Niagara Falls and my grandparents were all in Niagara Falls, and my family. So that’s my place.”
Thank you very much to Mrs. DeSantis for spending the time with me and for all your hard work at East!