South Orangetown Central School District

As part of South Orangetown Central School District’s June 6 Districtwide Celebration, Superintendent Dr. Robert Pritchard recognized outgoing Board of Education President Rosemary Pitruzzella, who has dedicated herself to serving the South Orangetown Central School District in a volunteer capacity for the past 28 years. “Rosemary is all about kids and making sure that every student in this school district gets an excellent education…there’s nothing in this district that she has not had a profound impact upon,” he said.

Between 1991 and 2004, Mrs. Pitruzzella held a number of roles across the district’s PTA units, including PTA Council Delegate, SOMS PTA President and PTA Council President. She was an Executive Committee member of GEAR, SOCSD’s chapter of the Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education in New York, co-founded the We The People multicultural celebration, helped to launch the district’s Special Education PTA (SEPTA), and was a Central Hudson Region PTA board member. As SOMS PTA President, Mrs. Pitruzzella worked to create the building’s annual You Make a Difference Awards. “At that time, SOMS highlighted its Students of the Month and those who earned honors and high honors. As an advocate for all children, I felt that we needed to afford additional opportunities for all children to be recognized,” she noted. “So, I asked the principal about honoring students who made a difference in the lives of others. He agreed and that’s where it began.”

Mrs. Pitruzzella attended her first Board meeting when her son was in kindergarten. “Foreign language was on the agenda and it was something I was interested in,” she recalled. “I sat through the whole meeting to find that it was on the agenda because the Board planned to make a decision that night. I realized that I had to attend Board meetings regularly to know what was going on and to participate in conversations before they hit the agenda.”

As PTA Council President, Mrs. Pitruzzella was successful in establishing PTA/Board of Education retreats which now convene at least once a year. “We’re the only board in the county that does this,” she said. “It’s about creating a bridge for people to build relationships and bringing people together to get the job done: Rules plus regulations plus partnerships equals results.”

Mrs. Pitruzzella was elected to five consecutive terms on SOCSD’s Board of Education, starting in 2004. “Professional development needed to be improved when I first joined the Board. Making sure that we give our staff the tools to do their job effectively became a board focus, particularly in terms of budget support,” she stated. “The most important way to ensure that our students get a high-quality education is to have highly-qualified teachers in our classrooms.”

For the past 10 years, Mrs. Pitruzzella has also served as the district’s representative on the Rockland BOCES Board of Education and is currently its Vice President. “Being on that board, I learned how expansive Rockland BOCES is in terms of the myriad programs and opportunities offered to all children,” she reflected.

Over the past three decades, Mrs. Pitruzzella has been a constant presence at district meetings and school events, and has served on numerous committees, including the district’s Curriculum Council and Wellness Committee. She has received recognition for her hard work, dedication and advocacy from National PTA, New York State PTA, New York State School Boards Association and Rockland County School Boards Association.

Looking forward, Mrs. Pitruzzella is optimistic. “The district is in good shape and I feel good about that. My goal was to have systems in place and, while we’re not done, the foundation is set,” she said. “We have a great administrative team and an excellent board with every member contributing. We work hard to know the needs of each of our students and to ensure that each child has the tools necessary to reach their potential. I’m proud that we’ve supported the administration in taking risks to innovate. Everything takes much longer than we would like, but we must do our due diligence to ensure that what we implement is effective and sustainable long-term. It’s always been about the children for me. If it’s good for the children, it’s good with me.”

Rosemary Pitruzzella in red with flowers, flanked by district administrators and board members