In continuing down memory lane, the professional life and accomplishments of our prestigious leaders of the New York Academy is Joseph La Cascia, President Emeritus of the Academy.
Joseph has served the New York City educational community for well over forty years. He was first appointed to the Dyker Heights Intermediate School 201K, where he served 44 years. His early assignment involved teaching reading, English as a Second Language, Creative Writing and Language Arts. Under District 20 supervision, he used two innovative approaches to working with word recognition and visual tracking. He used, as well, a closed circuit television system as a means for poor readers to research topics, write scripts, select graphics and then perform their work on screen. His next assignment at Dyker Heights was that of Dean of Discipline, a position in which he served for fifteen years. After a stint as a Guidance Counselor, he was appointed Assistant Principal and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2013.
In the capacity of Assistant Principal, Joseph had multiple supervisory responsibilities. He was Chairperson of the School Leadership Team and moderator of IS 201’s Science Olympiad Team which was chosen as one of three teams to represent New York City at the New York State Olympiad Competitions in New Paltz and Rochester for six consecutive years. In addition, Joseph was indeed proud to have his students selected to participate for several years in the Young Scientists Program at The New York Hall of Science and at The Hayden Astrophysics Program at The American Museum of Natural History. Joseph’s leadership talent was also evidenced as moderator in the New York Academy of Medicine’s Junior Fellows Program, in which his students engaged in researching medical topics with the guidance of resident doctors at Maimonides Medical Center.
During his career, Joseph worked with the CYO Day Camp in Coney Island and at Jewish Hospital and Medical Center of Brooklyn’s Developmental Clinic. He is most proud of being selected as the student marshal for the St. John’s University Graduate School of Education Class of September 1995, and as an honoree of the Catholic Teachers Association of the Diocese of Brooklyn in 2007. Joseph owes great debts of gratitude to two NYC educators, the late Andrew J. Gatto, former principal of PS 60Q, and Madeline D. Brennan, former principal of IS 201. Mr. Gatto was his seventh grade social studies teacher who supported and mentored him during his education and early career. He notes that Mr. Gatto was a model of the power of an educator in affecting the lives of others. He says of Mr. Gatto, “He profoundly changed my aspirations and the course of my life.” Mrs. Brennan mentored him throughout his career as an educator. He says of her, “Through the years, Mrs. Brennan schooled me in how a school should be organized and sustained for success.” She modeled her passion and integrity in maintaining her core educational goals in the face of nay-sayers and educational fads every day. It was always, “Find a way. What’s the plan? What’s likely to happen?” Joseph La Cascia, devoted husband, father and grandfather, is sustained by his faith, and the love and support of his late wife, Ruth. He is most proud of his daughters, Anne and Amy, their husbands Ron and Dave, and presently devotes himself to spoiling five grandchildren at every opportunity permitted by their parents.
The New York Academy of Public Education is honored to have Joseph La Cascia, President Emeritus, as a member of the Academy and the Board of Directors.