New Assistant Principal's Ties to SWBOCES Go Back Decades

Tappan Hill Assistant Principal Amanda Allison

Tappan Hill Assistant Principal's Ties to SWBOCES Go Back Decades

Amanda Allison recently became assistant principal at Tappan Hill School, but her connection to Southern Westchester BOCES goes back decades.

Her father, Marty Sommer, was a guidance counselor at the Center for Career Services campus. She attended “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” there when she was a child, and when she was older, she brought her car to campus for students in the Automotive Technology Department to work on.

“I feel like BOCES is a second home, so it’s surreal for me to be working in the same organization that my dad worked so proudly for,” she said.

Before starting as assistant principal over the summer, Ms. Allison worked in the Carmel School District for 12 years. She was a social worker and chair of the Special Education and Preschool Special Education committees.

“I really wanted to get back to working with kids and families and teachers,” she said. “I really missed that component. I loved my time working in Carmel, but I really missed that ability to go into a classroom and get to know kids and families on a deeper level.”

Her new post is ideal because it combines leadership with her skills as a social worker and a board-certified behavior analyst.

“I wanted to come to Tappan Hill because Southern Westchester BOCES is a leader in the region for having really great programs for students with disabilities and I wanted to be part of that,” she said. “It’s really exciting for me to be in a program where there’s cutting-edge work going on for students.”

Tappan Hill Principal Phyllis Rizzi said SWBOCES was fortunate to hire Ms. Allison as assistant principal, which is a new position at Tappan Hill.

“I feel like she’s always been here,” Ms. Rizzi said. “The nice thing about Amanda is she has a very strong work ethic and she is knowledgeable about all facets of kids with disabilities. She’s always professional and very warm to all the students and staff.”

SWBOCES also welcomed a new social worker at Tappan Hill this school year. Her name is Nicole Celentano.

Ms. Allison grew up in Putnam Valley and attended Lakeland High School. The Dutchess County resident earned her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Binghamton University. She received her master’s in social work from SUNY at Albany, and her board-certified behavior analyst certification from Penn State University. She attended Manhattan’s Bank Street Graduate School of Education for her master’s in educational leadership. She will begin studying for her doctorate in educational leadership at Manhattanville College next year.

One of her tasks as assistant principal is to look for additional ways the school can partner with other districts. That could involve having Tappan Hill children spend time at other schools, or having outside students visit Tappan Hill to play with its new Lü Interactive Playground, which projects activities and lessons onto the gymnasium wall.

“I think we can offer some unique opportunities with the interactive board, but also being able to go to a school and be around other children who can model for us and help us work on play and language is super important,” she said. “It helps us in our Tappan mission and goal of creating students who are going to be as independent as possible.”

Children at Tappan Hill have interacted with children in Elmsford, Dobbs Ferry and Tarrytown through gym classes, Ms. Allison said. “We’re looking to see if we can bridge some more relationships,” she said.

Ms. Allison has also been working on the school’s safety plans and is looking at ways to support aides and teaching assistants with ongoing applied behavior analysis training.

“I’m really excited to be at BOCES,” she said. “Working with Phyllis has already been an incredible experience. She is a force, so I’m excited to learn and grow as a leader and to help support our BOCES initiatives.”