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PAWS To Honor Anderson, DiStefano Brothers

West Islip education foundation to recognize accomplishments of Manetuck principal, local business owners this Friday.

With its annual dinner/dance approaching this Friday, Partners Advancing West Islip Schools (PAWS) continues working to raise funds for programs and equipment for use by local students in schools across the district.

At this year’s event at the Venetian Yacht Club in Babylon, PAWS will honor Mary Anderson, principal of , with its Outstanding Educator Award; and brothers Richard DiStefano and Robert DiStefano, owners of , with its Outstanding Community Member Award.

As in past years, the dinner/dance serves as the main fundraiser for PAWS. But the organization is also working to bring in monies from other sources as well, and the need from the school community continues to grow in the face of cuts in state aid, PAWS officials said.

“This year we had about 23 grant applications submitted by local teachers to PAWS,” said Barbara McAteer, president of PAWS. “Last year, we had about 13.”

Since its inception in 2004, PAWS had donated funding to West Islip schools to cover the cost of a long list of items. Among them are a Yamaha C6 grand piano, a recording studio at the high school, a rock-climbing wall, a book nook reading center and smart boards.

In addition to the dinner/dance, PAWS continues to seek donors for its brick campaign, whereby local residents and business owners can purchase a brick along the pathway that leads to the high school’s football field. Family names or business names can be engraved on the bricks. Depending on brick size, the costs are $100, $250 and $500.

“We’re hoping to attract more local residents and business with these new prices,” McAteer said.

2011 PAWS Honorees

• Mary Anderson, Outstanding Educator Award

Currently serving as principal at Manetuck Elementary School, Mary Anderson’s career in education has spanned 40 years. She spent 18 years as a classroom teacher at Westbrook Elementary School and one year as a science mentor.

Over the next 21 years, Anderson has held the title of principal, the first three of those years at Paul J. Bellew and the past 18 years in her current role at Manetuck, the school district’s largest elementary school by student population.

• Richard DiStefano and Robert DiStefano, Outstanding Community Member Award.

Richard DiStefano was born in Middle Village, Queens, and moved with his family to West Islip in 1971. Upon graduating from West Islip High School in 1984, DiStefano attended St. Johns University, where he graduated with a degree in Management.  Over the years Richard has been active in many organizations throughout West Islip. He and his wife, Maureen, have two children: Matthew and Lauren.

Robert DiStefano was born in Brooklyn and moved to West Islip at the age of two. Robert attended Alfred State College and earned a degree in Electrical Construction. In 1993, he joined forces with his brother, Richard, to open West Islip Wines and Liquors. Robert and his wife, Claire, have three children: Owen, Olivia and Andrew.

Paulie Walnuts April 26, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Mary Anderson worked at "Paul J. Bellow?" Where is that?!
Gary B April 26, 2011 at 06:04 PM
West Islip Wines and Liquors is a great business in this community and the DiStefano brothers are the main reason why.
Lena Montes April 27, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Rich DiStefano is a great coach to my daughter Kayla's softball team. He gives great time and energy to insure the girls learn a lot while having a great time doing so. He also exemplifies great sportsmanship which is much appreciated while standing in front of a group of very impressionable girls !!
Nancy April 28, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Yes, Ms. Anderson served at Paul J. Bellew Elementary School her first three years as a principal. Bellew Elementary School is located at 25 Higbie Lane, next to the West Islip Public Library. Mary, congratulations on being the 2011 recipient of the PAWS Outstanding Educator Award. You are a wonderful role model for this community's youth, as well as, for new educators. Congratulations, too, to PAWS the Education Foundation for its vision, incredible five-year success, and the dedication and hard work of its Executive Board and volunteers.
Carissa A April 30, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Mrs Anderson as I still and always will call her was my first grade teacher at Westbrook Elementary School. It is the many teachers like her that have kept me in Wwst Islip where my own children are currently attending Westbrook as well. Thank you Mrs. Andersen and all the teachers for all that you do.

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