Carol D’Agostino announces retirement after 18 years as Kendall principal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 March 2023 at 7:31 am

‘Her drive for students to succeed both in and out of the classroom has been second to none.’

File photos: (Left) Carol D’Agostino, Kendall’s Jr./Sr. High School principal, presents a diploma to Alanna Gordon on June 23, 2017 during commencement at the school auditorium. D’Agostino present ed diplomas to about 1,000 students during her career. (Right) D’Agostino is shown inside the junior-senior high school which received extensive renovations during her tenure.

KENDALL – Carol D’Agostino has announced she will be retiring on June 30, leaving a dream job for her that she started nearly 18 years ago as principal at Kendall Junior-Senior High School.

D’Agostino grew up and graduated from Kendall. She was working at Albion as a high school vice principal when the position opened in her home district.

Kendall is doing a full search process to find D’Agostino’s replacement, said Nick Picardo, the district superintendent.

“For the past 18 years, Carol has passionately dedicated her time as principal to the students of Kendall,” Picardo said. “Her drive for students to succeed both in and out of the classroom has been second to none. Carol’s student-centered approach has helped to shape hundreds of students as they crossed the stage at graduation.”

Kendall is a high-performing district academically. It is included among the top high schools in the country in the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking.

D’Agostino was a member of the Lawnchair Ladies.

“I know our results are good academically,” D’Agostino said. “We don’t have major behavioral problems. We are like a little private school in the public school setting.”

D’Agostino has three grown children and her 10 grandchildren are all in the Kendall district. She went to college a little later than usual to be home when her children were young. She earned a bachelor’s degree in math at age 32.

Then she earned her certification in elementary education and high school math. She followed that with a master’s degree to be a reading specialist and then earned her administrative certification.

She started as a substitute teacher aide at the Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES based in Spencerport, and developed a love for education.

Her first full-time job as a teacher was for second grade in Albion.

“I just loved those years,” she said. “They are every special to me.”

She was asked by Ron Sodoma, the Albion district superintendent at the time, to move to the high school and teach math because there was a hard-to-fill vacancy. She did that job for four years and then worked for the district as a MST (Math, Science and Technology) coordinator before taking the job as high school vice principal.

The job leading the junior-senior high school at Kendall then opened and D’Agostino was thrilled to be hired in her hometown.

She has been an enthusiastic presence at Kendall, even performing with students in a cameo role in the recent Annie musical. She also was member for many years with the Kendall Lawnchair Ladies.

She is well regarded outside Kendall and serves on the boards for the Orleans Economic Development Agency, Orleans County United Way, and the Community Services Board for Orleans County.

“I’ve really tried to represent Kendall the best I can,” she said about the boards. “I want Kendall’s voice can be heard, too. Each of these boards serve different elements of the community. They can bring powerful programs to students and their families.”

D’Agostino considered retiring sooner, but wanted to see the district through the challenges of the Covid pandemic and also the transition to a new a superintendent. She feels like the district is in a great place right now.

“I tried to be a true student advocate and treat every student as my own and what I would want for them,” she said. “We help everyone meet their potential – academic, social and emotional.”

Carol D’Agostino addresses the graduates and the crowd during an outdoor graduation ceremony on June 26, 2020. She is joined on stage by Lisa Levett (left), president of the Board of Education, and Julie Christensen, the district superintendent. The stage was donated for use by Kludt Farms and Christ Farms decorated the stage for the event.

D’Agostino showed her creativity and determination in the Covid pandemic, especially with graduation in late June 2020.

Many of the districts recorded students receiving their diplomas individually, and compiled a video for graduation. Districts weren’t able to do indoor ceremonies nut could do them outdoors if capped at 150 people. The state at the time allowed groups of people to count as one person if they stayed in or by a vehicle.

Kendall decided to hold the graduation outdoors in the grounds by the fire department. D’Agostino and the district wanted the grads to have that moment as a class together.

“These milestones are so critical to students,” she said. “We wanted a graduation ceremony. Your graduation ceremony is a rite of passion. Everyone will remember that. We worked with health department to keep it safe and meet the regulations.”

Kendall students, teachers and staff wore pink for the principal battling breast cancer in this photo from February 2017.

D’Agostino said Kendall is a nurturing community and she experienced that love in 2017 while she was battling breast cancer for the second time.

About 300 students, teachers and staff wore pink “Kendall Strong 2017 Team Mrs. D” T-shirts during an assembly in February 2017 in honor of D’Agostino.

D’Agostino said that show of support is just one of the many ways the Kendall community rallies around someone facing a difficult challenge.

“When I had breast cancer they had T-shirts for everyone,” she recalled. “It was an outpouring of love and support. It made such a difference. I have been blessed being a part of Kendall community.”