Greenport School District

Greenport Schools ‘will never be the same,’ following passing of beloved teacher

The word pride is synonymous with the Greenport school community. The five-letter motto is instilled in the district’s students at a young age and carries on long after the final school bell has rung.

Over the years, the term has been used on posters and T-shirts, to name community parades and in countless headlines and speeches.

A “Porter” is expected to take pride in their school and few individuals embodied that spirit quite like Cindy Goldsmith-Agosta, friends, colleagues and former students explained this week.

Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta was among a select group of district residents who walked the school’s hallways as a student, only to return a handful of years later to embark on a career as a special education teacher in the building. She died suddenly Saturday at the age of 47, the district announced later that morning, causing the administration to take the unusual step of announcing it would close school Thursday for a day of mourning, as the beloved teacher is laid to rest.

“There are no words to describe the loss that we are experiencing with the news of losing Cindy,” Greenport High School principal Gary Kalish said in a statement. “Our hallways, classrooms and community will never be the same. She was a beloved member of our faculty, a trusted and well-respected colleague who cherished our school and our children. She had a dynamic personality that we all loved. Her contribution to all of our lives will not be forgotten.” 

In addition to the school closure, a candlelight vigil will be held outside the school at 6 p.m Tuesday.

“Words cannot express how devastated we feel at the passing of someone so special, who has been such a staple in our school community for so many years,” Superintendent Marlon Small said in notifying the school community of her passing. “[She] has been an integral part of the Greenport School District. She was not only a member of our faculty, but a parent, a friend and a graduate of the Greenport School District. We are simply heartbroken by her untimely passing.”

Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s family, which includes her husband Salvatore and son John, will receive visitors at Horton-Mathie Funeral Home in Greenport from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. A funeral mass will follow at Our Lady of Ostrabrama R.C. Church in Cutchogue at 10 a.m. Thursday before burial at East Marion Cemetery.

Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta was raised in East Marion, attending classes at Oysterponds Elementary School, where her mother Linda was a long-time school board member. She graduated from Greenport High School in 1992.

Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s friends and former students said she went above and beyond in her role as a special education teacher. (Courtesy Photo)

Fellow Greenport High School teacher Melanie Douglass knew Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta since their days at Oysterponds. She described her as the “strongest supporter” for all.

“If you needed anything you went to Cindy,” Ms. Douglass said. “We knew that, her students knew that, everybody knew that … People were just drawn to her. She was a mom to all and purely genuine.”

Karre Brown of Riverhead said in her household growing up, Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta was referred to as her brother Michael’s “school mom.” Mr. Brown, who had cerebral palsy and died tragically in a 2010 crash, was a student in Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s class, but the impact she had on him extended far beyond the classroom, his sister recalled.

“[She and Ms. Douglass] would come by the house and check on him and make sure his schoolwork was done and handed in on time,” she said. “And if he needed anything at all, it didn’t matter if it was a pair of shoes or if it was help with his car, Cindy and her husband and her family, they would just help out.”

After Mr. Brown was killed, Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta remained in his family’s life and supported the charity set up in his name.

That type of dedication is no surprise to those who knew Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s dedication to the school’s students.

Alexis Wachtel, a 2013 Greenport graduate who lost her dad while attending the high school, said that even though she was not in Ms. Goldsmith-Acosta’s class, the teacher frequently went out of her way to check in on her and make sure she was OK.

“She was a person who lit up the room and was a good role model for everyone,” Ms. Wachtel said. “It’s a tough loss for the community and her family. Everyone I spoke to [over the weekend] was in disbelief.”

Ms. Douglass said that when the pressures of teaching would get to colleagues, Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta, a former teacher’s union president, would open up her home to them as a place to decompress. 

“Her son, her husband, and her family were her everything,” Ms. Douglass said. “My heart breaks for them and for us. I do not know what we will do without her.”

Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta is survived by her husband, son, parents, sister and nephew.

More specific details about her death were not publicly disclosed.