Dr. Santo Barbarino, superintendent of the Lynbrook school district, died suddenly Monday at the age of 67.
"Dr. Barbarino was an outstanding educational leader and an all around great person," Lynbrook Board of Education President Cathy Papandrew told Patch. In a statement released Tuesday, Papandrew added, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Barbarino’s family and friends during this very difficult and sad time. Dr. Barbarino was someone who always put our children first. The success and well being of our students was always his number one priority. As the educational leader of our school district, he was a pleasure to work with. He was admired by all who knew him and served as a role model for our staff and our students.”
Lynbrook Police received a call around 10 a.m. Monday from a doctor's office located on Merrick Road that a man was unconscious. Upon their arrival they administered CPR and used an AED to try to revive Dr. Barbarino. When the Lynbrook Fire Department's Emergency Medical Company arrived, the EMTs took over and transported the Lynbrook schools chief via ambulance to South Nassau Community Hospital in Oceanside, where he was pronounced dead at 10:44 a.m., according Lynbrook Police Chief Joseph Neve.
"He was a great man," Neve said.
The Brooklyn-born Barbarino was not only a resident of Lynbrook but he devoted 32 years to the Lynbrook School District and had been serving as its superintendent since 2008.
Barbarino held a Masters Degree in Administration and Supervision from St. John’s Universit and a Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from New York University, but his long career in education began at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, where he graduated from in 1967 with the Outstanding Undergraduate Award and became a member of Alpha Phi Delta, according to the foundation's Web site.
After graduation Barbarino became District Governor of the national fraternity in the New York City area, served as Kleos editor from 1968 to 1978, and was then elected National President of Alpha Phi Delta Fraternity. He later became an original director on the Alpha Phi Delta Foundation and was the sole remaining active member of the original scholarship trustees formed in 1974.
"This is a sad day for all of us who had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Barbarino," stated West Hempstead Schools Superintendent John Hogan, whose friendship with "Santo" stretched back 38 years to their days at St. Francis College. "We have been fraternity brothers in Alpha Phi Delta for all that time and, more importantly, friends. He has been a mentor to many of us and a friend to all. He never thought about himself, but always of others and what he might be able to do to help them."
Barbarino joined the Lynbrook school district in 1980 as a high school chemistry teacher, and later served as Administrative Assistant for Instruction and Director of Athletics. He was also the principal of Lynbrook High School from 1986 to 2006, and then went on to become assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction before becoming superintendent.
Regardless of what title he held though, Dr. B, as he was affectionately called, "always cared deeply about the boys and girls in his care and was simply a great educator and outstanding person," Hogan said. "I cannot imagine Santo not being here ... he will be sorely missed."
During his tenure, Dr. Barbarino also served as a member of the New York State Education Commissioner’s Blue Ribbon Panel on School Leadership and the New York State Team for the High School Reform Leadership Summit. He was a past President of the Nassau High School Principals Association and the Nassau County Athletic Association. He was named a 2008 New York State Educator of the Year, a New York State High School Principal of the Year, Village of Lynbrook’s Man of the Year, Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year and Knights of Columbus “Humanitarian of the Year.” He was also awarded the New York State PTA Life Membership award and the Rotary Club award for Service Beyond Self.
Former Lynbrook Village Trustee and Lynbrook Fire Department spokesman Steve Grogran described Barbarino as "a great guy [who] was truly respected and admired in Lynbrook." "He was a man who was always willing to work with village government for the betterment of our community, not just the school," Grogan added.
The Lynbrook School District released the following statement Monday:
"'Dr. B' has been a champion of the Lynbrook School District for most of his professional career. His leadership and presence at all school events will be sorely missed.
The District will be mobilizing our crisis management team. Support services and grief counseling for all will be available at the high school tomorrow, Tuesday, August 28th, between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. More information will be forthcoming. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this very difficult time."