Photo by Adan Quan

Helping Joseph DeRogatis-Frilingos (11), paraprofessional Amy Celentino advises on a geography activity. Celentino has worked in the district for 24 years, and has seen many students come and go through the special education program.

Amy Celentino

Towards the beginning of her career at ELHS as a paraprofessional, Amy Celentino remembers a student who she sang good morning to every day. The student was non-verbal, but did always listen to her daily tradition.

Then, one day, they sang back to her.

Up until this point, the student hadn’t spoken— or sung. From that point onward, Celentino sang to the student every day, and the always student sang back.

“We started doing music classes and things like that, and her mother would put her in classes, and she started speaking after that,” Celentino said. “So you have to find what’s good and important and for that child to find out how that child motivates and gets going.”

Celentino is a special education paraprofessional. She works with special education students throughout the day. Spending this time with students, Celentino feels that the connections with her students are a valuable part of her job. So it is even more difficult when a student she has known for a while leaves, along with the family that Celentino was able to meet. It is a bittersweet moment for her, seeing someone she worked with for years succeed and graduate from special education.

While simply doing her job is important, the most important part for Celentino is being able to help kids. 

“I enjoy working with kids, and I enjoy working with staff, keeping them going,” Celentino said. 

Working in special education for 30 years and at ELPS for 24, Celentino felt it was time to leave. As she retires, she hopes that all students continue in school and education, since she finds it to be important. While her last year might have still been one with masks, Celentino didn’t let it hide her.

“I’m always a smiley face even if you can’t see over the mask, but I’m always smiling and ready to talk if anybody needs it,” Celentino said. 

Once she retires, she hopes to do more crafts, garden and participate in activities at her church.

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