2020 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Paul Defendini comes from a family of committed Farmingdale educators. His father was a math teacher, his mother taught kindergarten, his sister is an elementary school teacher and his wife is a guidance counselor, all in the Farmingdale UFSD. A devoted Daler, Mr. Defendini worked his way through college as a cleaner in Farmingdale schools. Upon earning his bachelor’s, master’s and administrative degrees, he returned to the district as a middle school teacher and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming Dean of Students, then School Business Administrator and Assistant Superintendent for Business, before finally taking the helm in his current role.
During his short tenure thus far, the new superintendent has helped to transform Farmingdale schools from a good district into a superior district. Among his most notable achievements is an initiative that led to the recently completed Middle School Athletic Field Complex, which includes: baseball and softball fields; a multi-purpose field for track, football, lacrosse and soccer; a training center; and the Future Daler Field Area, a dedicated space where young ones can safely play while their older siblings compete in various sports. The finishing touches to the complex — a fully functional comfort station and field lights for night games — are nearly complete. Currently underway is construction on a state-of-the-art aquatic center and refurbishing of the elementary athletic fields.
Mr. Defendini is the mind behind the district’s new “Thoughtexchange” digital communications platform. “Thoughtexchange” is an online meeting place where community members can share their thoughts and feelings about what is happening in the district. The superintendent and his team analyze the data from the exchange and use it to make improvements throughout the district. At its inception, the exchange gathered approximately six thousand ratings from more than 500 participants, and it continues to grow.
Mr. Defendini’s leadership is applauded throughout Farmingdale schools. He earned the prestigious Jenkins Award from the Farmingdale Council of PTAs and holds a distinguished place on the Farmingdale Wall of Fame. He is an effective leader outside of the district as well, serving as President of the Nassau Association of School Business Officials, an assistant lacrosse coach for the Police Athletic League, and a Cub Scout leader.
“Paul Defendini is a man of honor, integrity, honesty and compassion,” wrote his award nominator. “He is a true visionary whose passion and energy are infectious. He treats the Farmingdale community as a family, celebrating everyone and their accomplishments. He is a transformational force in public education, empowering all those around him to limitless potential, from students and staff, to Board of Education and community members. People know and feel how much he cares.”