Two of the seven seats on Mohonasen’s Board of Education are up for election on May 17. Candidates run at-large and are elected to unpaid, three-year terms beginning July 1. The candidates are listed below in the order they will appear on the ballot. To learn more about the candidates, watch the May 9 Meet the Candidates forum.
All information is submitted by candidates.
Heather C. Quinn
Heather C. Quinn, of Fordham Avenue, has lived in the district for eight years. She and her husband, Andy, are parents to three children: Daniel, 8, a third grader at Pinewood; William, 6, a kindergartner at Bradt; and Andrew, 2.
Quinn is employed as Associate Director for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment at Wildwood School in Schenectady. Wildwood School serves students with autism, neurological impairments and other developmental disabilities. In her role as associate director, she oversees all curriculum and instruction and supervises program coordinators, the teacher department and behavior support department.
“I work closely with all teaching and clinical staff to ensure student progress across all areas. We place a large focus on data driven instruction. We identify and implement improvement strategies where needed and seek to promote the most effective means for continuous improvement,” said Quinn. “My current role also includes working alongside families as we navigate the challenges their students may face as well as celebrate the successes.
Prior to working for Wildwood School, she was employed in both the Cohoes City School District and Bethlehem Central School District as a teacher and behavior specialist.
A graduate of Whitesboro Central High School in Marcy, N.Y., she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stonehill College, Easton, Mass., and a master’s degree in special education from Simmons College, Boston, Mass. She is a New York State certified teacher for students with disabilities grades 1-6, holds an advanced graduate certificate in applied behavior analysis from Northeastern University in Boston and in Educational Leadership from Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y. She is a nationally board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), a New York State licensed behavior analyst (LBA) and is pending certification as a New York State School District Leader.
Quinn currently serves as a classroom liaison with the Mohonasen Elementary PTO and has been involved with PTO, assisting with various events and fundraisers, since her oldest child started school four years ago.
She is a member of St. Gabriel’s Parish in Rotterdam, a professional member of the New York State chapter of Applied Behavior Analysis Association, and assists with activities related to the Rotterdam Boys and Girls Club, Rotterdam Youth Soccer and RC Little League. She is also a member of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Central New York, where she serves as an advocate.
“As an active member of the Mohonasen community, a parent, a teacher and a school administrator, I bring a unique perspective and area of expertise to the board of education. I know and understand the issues that education is facing from all sides. I have first-hand knowledge of both special as well as general education. As a teacher and administrator, I have the tools to develop and understand curriculum and instruction, support and understand staff and student perspectives, and assist with developing budgets that will be fiscally responsible.
“As a parent of three young children in the Mohonasen school district, I have a vested interest in making our schools the best that they can be. My intentions are to seek the best possible solutions that will work for our students and staff alike.”
Gary Spadaro, of Ferguson Street, previously served for four years on the board. He is the Director of Social Enterprise at the Schenectady City Mission and owner of the Dynamic Dental Management Group.
Spadaro is a graduate of Mohonasen High School. After graduating, he went on to receive a degree in business administration from Herkimer County Community College and a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from Siena College. He also attended the Division of Prosthodontics School Dentistry at the University of Michigan and the Leadership Management Institute.
Spadaro is the founder of the City Mission’s Weekend Serving Program, also known as the “backpack program.” He is a past member member of the Mohonasen Foundation for Excellence, a member of the Rotterdam Elks, past president of the Rotterdam Business Association and past board member of the National Association of Dental Labs.
Spadaro and his wife, Holly, have two children.
“It has been an honor and a blessing to be on the Mohonasen Board of Education. I look forward to furthering the work the board has done, especially the most recent building project. The board was a big part of my life for nine years. I truly enjoy serving the community in this capacity.”
Deborah Escobar, of East Palmer Avenue, has lived in the district for 36 years. She is a mother of three, and grandmother of two. Her oldest grandchild is a kindergartner in the district.
Escobar served 23 years as a teacher for Farnsworth Middle School’s gifted and talented program. During her career she earned many awards, including the Regional Award for National History Day Teacher of the Year, New York State History Day Teacher of the Year, the New York State Archives Annual Archives Award, the Contribution to Education Award from the New York State Society of Professional Engineers, and the Sallie Mae First Year Teacher Award which is given to 100 first-year teachers throughout the nation. She is also a published author.
Since retiring in 2014, Escobar has been a tireless advocate for public education. She frequently lobbies national and state legislators for more funding, less Common Core high-stakes testing, and for other policies that strengthen schools. She speaks out against the education reforms, privatization, and voucher movement that are weakening schools throughout our state and country on her blog, Protect Public Schools, at http://protectpublicschools.blogspot.com/.
Escobar holds a bachelor’s degree from Russell Sage, where she graduated as valedictorian, and a master’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany. Both degrees are in social studies/secondary education.
He is an assistant director of information technology for the New York State Office of the State Comptroller, supporting the Retirement Division. He is also a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army and a veteran of the Iraq War, where he served on the personal staff of General David Petraeus.
Piccirillo attended grade school in the original Draper School District and middle and high school at Mohonasen. After graduating from Mohonasen, Piccirillo went on to graduate from Siena College with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He also graduated from various military schools including the US Army Command and General Staff College, where he later taught.
Piccirillo has also been a water safety instructor for the Mohonasen Learn to Swim Program, a swimming instructor for the Mohonasen Marlins swim club, and is a parishioner and former parish council secretary at St. Gabriel’s Church. He is a member of the Sons of Italy, Gabriele D’Annunzio Lodge, and a lifetime member of the VFW Post 1895 in Rotterdam.
He and his wife, Carolyn, have two children.