Padavan rewards Qns. teachers for saving fellow instructor’s life

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More than 30 teachers, including three from a Whitestone elementary school who saved their colleague’s life after he collapsed last month, were recognized by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose) last week during a ceremony at the Queens Farm Museum.

“I want to thank you, and this is my way of saying, ‘Thank you,’” Padavan told the teachers.

PS 129 art teacher Domingo Carrasco, parent coordinator Laura Buquicchio and fifth−grade teacher David Dame said the CPR drills conducted two to three times a year at their Whitestone school helped prepare them for the April incident.

“The drills were very important because without the drills, I don’t think the school would have been prepared for that event,” Carrasco said.

An ESL teacher at the school collapsed in the morning and went into cardiac arrest when his colleagues rushed to his aid.

Carrasco and Dame helped give CPR while Buquicchio used the school’s defibrillator.

“Thank God for the defibrilla­tors,” Buquicchio said.

She said she and her colleagues were calm during their life−saving effort.

“I guess because it happened so fast, we didn’t have time to be frazzled,” she said.

PS 129 Principal Marilyn Alesi said the teacher is expected to return to the school Monday.

Philip Smolowitz, who teaches vocational skills to mildly developmentally disabled and autistic 12th−graders at the Queens High School of Teaching in Glen Oaks, said he was honored to be recognized by Padavan.

“It’s very rewarding,” he said of his teaching. “I help these kids get jobs.”

A teacher for 17 years, Smolowitz started teaching vocational education last year. He said he was proud that two of his students were hired at CVS and the Alley Pond Golf Center.

Smolowitz teaches the students job readiness skills, including how to analyze pay stubs and how to affix inventory labels.

“They’re great kids,” he said. “They really are.”

The honorees were nominated by their principals and received a certificate of recognition from Padavan. Mame, Carrasco and Buquicchio were given the New York State Senate Liberty Medal.

This was the third ceremony Padavan has held to honor teachers in his senate district.

Also honored were: Ruth Fried of Yeshiva University High School for Girls; Christina MacKenzie of Whitestone Academy; Cathy Kenny of Holy Cross High School; Janice Hegl of Holy Trinity School; Marica O’Neal Suber of IS 109; Maria Urbaites of St. Kevin School; Sharon LaPenta of PS⁄IS 178; Dana Chimento of PS 203;

Phyllis Pastuszka of PS⁄IS 266; Robert Johnston of St. Francis Prep; Christina Cedrone of St. Mel School; Connie Cannone of St. Anastasia School; Clara Kang of JHS 185; Kendra Tinglin of PS⁄IS 208; Angela Burnett of St. Andrew Avellino School; Keri Wade−Donohue of St. Agnes Academic High School; Judy Hom of PS 33;

Atia Abangapakw­a−Toussa­int of Holy Trinity Community School; Vanessa Menendez of Mary’s Nativity School; Eileen Edebohls of Sacred Heart School; JoAnn Summerville of Martin Van Buren High School; Lina Heim of Our Lady of Lourdes; Karen Record of Queens Centers for Progress; Susan Mazzo of PS 94;

Douglas Potter of Benjamin Cardozo High School; Karen Greenberg of PS 35; Ianthy Goodinson of Thomas Edison Center High School; Houri Ghougassian of Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School; Sharon Christian of MS 158; Sister Catherine Quinn of St. Nicholas Tolentine School;

Kathleen Retzel of Immaculate Conception School; Jo−Ann Licciardi of Our Lady of Snows; Ericka Conlon of St. Luke; Sister Patricia O’Keefe of Mary Louis Academy; and Barbara Karafa of the Lutheran School of Flushing and Bayside.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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