The William Floyd School District is saddened to announce the passing of Jeananne Dawson, 71, of Mastic, longtime vice president and 40-year member of the William Floyd Board of Education, whose dedication, vision and pride in her school community has helped the district grow into the success that it has become today.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Mrs. Dawson, and we express our heartfelt sympathies to her family and friends,” said Kevin M. Coster, Superintendent of Schools, William Floyd School District. “She will be greatly missed on the Board of Education but her legacy will live on due to all that she has accomplished and contributed to the students and families of the William Floyd community during her four decades of selfless service.”
Robert Vecchio, president, William Floyd Board of Education shared similar sentiments, adding, “Mrs. Dawson leaves behind a tremendous legacy of service and passion for our students and community. She always believed in our students and William Floyd as a whole. She was Floyd Strong until the end.”
Mrs. Dawson’s William Floyd story began in 1975, when she and her husband, Richard, and young son, Mark, settled in Mastic, a small bucolic town on the south shore of Long Island. They were attracted to the affordable cost-of-living in a newer community that offered much promise to young couples.
In those early years as a community resident, Mrs. Dawson started attending school board meetings and felt strongly that a system is only as good as the people involved in it. Split sessions, portable classrooms and a district with a less than stellar reputation was not what she wanted for her children. She decided that she needed to get involved. A self-described “mom in a ponytail” looking to help her district and community succeed, she applied for and was appointed in 1979 to fill a vacancy on the Board of Education. She was then elected and subsequently re-elected by the community for 13-consecutive three-year terms – some of which were contested and others unopposed.
During her tenure, she helped create and incorporate a growing sense of vision and community, as well as the pursuit and attainment in advances of curriculum philosophy and consistent growth in academic progress. She was instrumental in bringing the award-winning NJROTC program to the district and helped initiate state-of-the-art building projects which eventually led to the end of split sessions and portable classrooms — a stark contrast to the recent capital project that she advocated for which will be transformational for district students and the community with upgrades such as an adaptive playground, new auditoriums for all three secondary buildings, new air conditioning in three elementary buildings currently without, new multi-sport turf fields and more.
She undertook and accomplished so much as a working mother of two children helping her children thrive and succeed. Her son, Mark Dawson, is a member of the William Floyd High School Class of 1991, and a physical education teacher, and her daughter, Michelle Becker, is a member of the William Floyd High School Class of 1994, and a master colorist and style director in the salon industry. Mrs. Dawson also had the opportunity to serve on the board during her grandson Daniel’s time at William Floyd.
In addition to her volunteer service on the Board of Education, Mrs. Dawson also served as the tournament coordinator for the William Floyd Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament, a charity fundraiser that since its inception has raised more than $550,000 in student scholarships for deserving William Floyd High School graduating seniors.
Other highlights during Mrs. Dawson’s tenure that she took great pride in include: William Floyd High School earning the Newsday “High School of the Year” award in the early 1980s; Moriches Elementary School earning the “National School of Excellence” designation; Redbook magazine recognizing Tangier Smith Elementary School as a school of distinction; William Floyd Elementary School earning the NYS International Reading Association “Exemplary Reading Program” award; the district earning the national “Library Program of the Year” award; an educator earning the Disney “Teacher of the Year” award; as well as a student garnering acceptance into all eight Ivy League schools resulting in positive worldwide publicity for William Floyd.
More recently, Mrs. Dawson took great pride in the creation and introduction of the Career and Technical Education program with a plethora of offerings providing additional graduation paths for students to be career and college ready; the opening of two new specialized schools — the Floyd Academy and the William Floyd Learning Center; the award-winning Music Department garnering induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and repeatedly earning the “Best Community for Music Education” designation; a flourishing fine arts department; the development of competitive athletic programs producing an increased number of NCCA student-athletes; an increased Moody’s Bond rating reflecting sound financial operations and management; an increasing graduation rate (88.7% in August 2019); and much more.
Mrs. Dawson was also honored this past May by the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association for her 40 years of dedicated and distinguished Board service to the William Floyd School District students and community. Her efforts were featured just last month in Newsday.
Mrs. Dawson’s greatest legacy, beyond all that she has accomplished as a Board of Education member, is that of her children and grandchildren who have witnessed her selfless dedication of volunteerism and love for her community throughout their lives. She is survived by her husband, Richard; their son, Mark, daughter-in-law, Lauren, and grandchildren, Brody and Bella of East Moriches; and their daughter, Michelle, and her partner, Ricky, their grandson, Daniel, and step-grandson, Devin of Coram. She is also survived by siblings: Donna and Tom, as well as their spouses, brother-in-law Paul, sister-in-law, Lowell; and another sister-in-law, Carole. She is predeceased by her brother, Jim.
In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Dawson requested that donations be made to the William Floyd Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament c/o C21 Cor-Ace Realty, 346 Montauk Highway, Suite I, Moriches, NY, 11955, or the A.R.E. Rico Memorial Foundation, PO Box 725, Center Moriches, NY 11934.