Even when she was in unforgiving pain, Christine Amodeo Palmer summoned the strength to smile and laugh for her students and colleagues. The Huntington School District librarian was a fighter and she battled breast cancer with everything she had before passing away on June 13, 2015. She was 41.
The Associated Teachers of Huntington, the professional organization of the district’s teaching corps vowed to present an annual scholarship to a graduating senior in honor of Mrs. Palmer’s career and service to the community. The ATH intends to sponsor the $1,000 award for a ten year period.
The 2017 scholarship was presented to Huntington Class of 2017 member Tara Wilson, an exceptional young woman who plans to attend SUNY Geneseo where she intends to study to become a secondary school social studies teacher. As a senior, she completed a credit bearing internship with high school social studies teacher Peter Crugnale.
Huntington Class of 2017 member Tara Wilson.
ATH President James Graber presented the coveted scholarship to Ms. Wilson during the high school’s senior academic awards night in the auditorium. The teenager said the key to her success has been challenging herself academically, athletically and through the numerous clubs she participated in over the past four years.
Chosen by her classmates to be a Natural Helper, Ms. Wilson also volunteered with Huntington’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and the Relay For Life, which raised a substantial amount of money to support the American Cancer Society’s initiatives.
Ms. Wilson was a starter on the Blue Devil varsity soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams and won awards in every sport. Adored by her coaches and teammates, the teenager took on leadership roles with every squad.
Just like Ms. Wilson, Mrs. Palmer was equally cherished by her faculty and staff colleagues. A 1991 graduate of John H. Glenn High School, she earned a BA in English at SUNY Oswego in 1995 and a Master of Library Science at SUNY Albany in 2000. She also obtained a professional certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in 2004 and had engaged in substantial post-graduate studies.
Mrs. Palmer came to Huntington in 1998 when she was hired as a teacher aide. She returned as a substitute librarian in March 2001 and was appointed to a full time position at Woodhull School in September 2001. She later split time between Flower Hill and Washington Primary Schools.
The happy librarian was a smiling and positive force around school and was viewed as the consummate professional. “Her love for literature, reading and her children were apparent when you walked into her library classes,” said one longtime colleague. “She ran a tight ship, expected a lot from her students and gave more back to each and every one of those lucky enough to have her as a teacher.”
Mrs. Palmer’s mother, Jacqueline Amodeo worked in the district as a special education case aide for 15 years. Many still remember her for the dedication she displayed to her students and her devilish sense of humor and fun loving ways.
Always interested in how she could improve the library experience for her students, Mrs. Palmer secured a Huntington Foundation Star grant in the amount of $11,400 in 2007. Science Connections provided monies to acquire two polycoms and lab sessions for fifth and sixth graders via videoconferencing with New York Hall of Science instructors. It was state of the art stuff and could be intimidating for a person unfamiliar with this type of technology.
While faculty members knew that Mrs. Palmer’s condition was extremely serious, they were nevertheless devastated to learn she had passed away. The veteran educator had a loyal group of faculty colleagues who are determined to keep her memory alive and who consider themselves blessed to have called her their close friend.
Mrs. Palmer left behind her husband, Jim, a New York City police officer and her bright and beautiful son, RJ (short for Robert James), who she was fond of calling her “little man.” He’s 5½ years old now.