PLEASE JOIN US AT A RECOGNITION BRUNCH HONORING
Principal, Rochester International Academy
Hannah G. Solomon Award Recipient
Mary Andrecolich-Montesano-Diaz understands only too well the challenges that many Rochester children face.
The founder and principal of the Rochester International Academy, Andrecolich-Montesano-Diaz grew up in poverty, the eldest of four children in a single-parent family. She attended Franklin High School, where she says she was a “mediocre student at best,” but an outspoken champion for the marginalized population.
“I was in and out of trouble, never thinking that I could afford to go to college,” Andrecolich-Montesano-Diaz recalls. “I was always standing up for the rights of those that were the most vulnerable… but quite often I was misunderstood.”
She credits a Franklin teacher, who also was her sports coach, for keeping her in school and off the streets through involve-ment in athletics. The teacher helped her navigate the college admission process, and after graduating Franklin in 1976 she attended the State University of Brockport. She studied physical education and minored in African dance, an experience that broadened her appre-ciation for other cultures. She eventually went on to get a Master’s degree in education and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Administration.
Starting as a teacher in the Rochester City School District, Andrecolich-Montesano-
Diaz “vowed” to emulate the example of the teacher who made such an impact on her life. As principal at Thomas Jefferson High School, she was particularly moved by the overwhelming struggles of teen immigrants: “I became enamored with those students that were new to our country, speaking very little to no English, most coming from refugee camps, with just the clothes on their backs.”
In 2010, she had the oppor-tunity to create an educational facility for these new arrivals and a year later the Rochester International Academy (RIA) opened with 38 students. Today, it serves about 400 students in grades K-12 who come from 20 countries and speak 28 different languages. The school emphasizes acqui-sition of the English language with integration of curriculum and academic skills; it is community-oriented and aimed at helping its students reach their highest potential.
In 2016, RIA was one of only eight schools nationwide to win the School of Opportunity GOLD Award from the National Education Policy Center; the honor recognizes excel-lent public high schools that actively strive to close oppor-tunity gaps. The school was featured in a video about the U.N.’s Together Campaign. Andrecolich-Montesano-Diaz was honored by the Rochester Education Foundation in 2016.
“I continue to be blessed as the principal at the Rochester International Academy where I am dedicated to fighting xenophobia and helping my students and their families be successful and happy in their new country,” the administrator says. She and her spouse, Gina, have three children and one grandchild.
An award-winning journalist, playwright and volunteer, Jennifer Loviglio joined the Rochester Section in 2008 and has been a dedicated member, serving several board terms.
After moving to Rochester in 1997, Jennifer worked as a free- lance journalist for several local publications, radio stations and a TV station. Her City Newspaper column, The XX Files, won a national award for excellence in column writing. She wrote plays for the Rochester Museum & Science Center, including one that was performed on the Sam Patch boat as part of the 4th grade curriculum and another that was performed at Mt. Hope Cemetery.
Jennifer first heard about NCJW from her friend Arlene Schenker, a past president. She was impressed by initiatives such as Project Teaching Respect, which raised awareness about the difficulties gay students encounter. She was also fascinated by Arlene’s tales of visiting legislators locally and in Washington, D.C., to lobby for children, women and reproductive justice. Jennifer recalled thinking, “Why can’t I join a group of smart activist women like this?”
Well, she could and she did! She became a Consider College mentor for a teen girl and her older brother. Jennifer was “always encouraging them to participate in all cultural, educational, culinary and just-plain- fun activities,” Consider College director Mollie Traub said.
Being involved in the P.A.D. Project inspired Jennifer. She learned that some woman and girls miss work and school because they can’t afford feminine hygiene supplies. She and her husband, Paul Hartman, convinced the Pittsford Food Cupboard to dedicate a shelf just for pads and pantiliners. They sponsored the shelf for a year, motivating other women to sustain it.
Jennifer chaired the Communications Committee and co-chaired the Women’s Equality Act program. She has also participated in job shadowing, the Books, Mommy and Me program, and the Public Affairs Committee. In 2015, she was named Emerging Leader. “Jennifer is always professional and pays careful attention to details,” Vancy Boyar, past president, said.
The best thing about being on the NCJW board? For Jennifer, it’s working with intelligent, compassionate women. “We get right to work. There’s no room for ego battles and grand-standing,” she said. But, she added, there is always time for thoughtful discussion.
Outside of NCJW, Jennifer’s other passion is working with refugees. She volunteers
with two refugee organizations’ job skills programs. Her new favorite gig is helping 4th graders learn math at a city school that serves refugee and neighborhood children. “The kids are mostly adorable, a teensy bit naughty and very smart,” she said.
Jennifer and her husband live in Pittsford and have two sons in their 20s, Nicolas and Ottavio.
- June 10, 2018
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Venue: Irondequoit Country Club
4045 East Ave Rochester, NY