Honoring Cindy Goldsmith-Agosta: Late teacher’s mother joins students to raise funds in her name

Sixteen months after her passing, educator Cindy Goldsmith-Agosta continues to support Greenport High School’s students.

The former special education teacher’s mother, Linda Goldsmith, has been working to raise funds in her daughter’s memory for scholarships and charitable donations. Most recently, she teamed up with members of Greenport High School’s Class of 2023 for a dual fundraiser. The students sold tickets for a French toast breakfast and auction held last month at Townsend Manor Inn that raised approximately $4,000. The school kept half the funds, which will support activities such as the prom and senior breakfast. At Tuesday’s Greenport school board meeting, Ms. Goldsmith donated the remaining funds to the North Fork Animal Welfare League, the Greenport skate park and Orient resident Mary Latham’s nationwide fundraising initiative More Good — all in Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s honor.

“I bought the auction gifts, [the students] sold all the tickets and without them I couldn’t have done it,” Ms. Goldsmith said. “I’m doing a lot that my daughter would have done had she been here.”

These charitable initiatives are Ms. Goldsmith’s way of grieving her daughter, who died of cardiac arrest Jan. 15, 2022, a week after recovering from COVID-19, and keeping her presence in the community alive. She was 47.

Tuesday’s donation to NFAWL is the cherry atop the funds that organization received after Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s death. Last year, her family had asked the community to donate to NFAWL, as The League, as her daughter was a lifelong dog lover. The outpouring of donations that followed prompted NFAWL to rename its puppy room in Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s honor, adding a plaque bearing her photo. 

As for the skate park donation, Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s teenage son, John Agosta, has skateboarded and roller bladed there.

“He has a need for speed,” Ms. Goldsmith said. 

More Good, which raises funds for various organizations and spreads acts of kindness across the nation, supported the Cindy Goldsmith-Agosta Scholarship fund, a nonprofit Ms. Goldsmith began last year. To return the favor, she is not only donating funds, but helping Ms. Latham organize a team for the Muddy Princess mud run and obstacle course in support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The run will be held Sunday, June 4, at the Dorothy P. Flint 4-H Camp in Riverhead.

Ms. Goldsmith said the community supports her fundraising efforts through not only monetary donations, but by contributing gifts and gift cards to use as auction prizes.

“It’s very rewarding for me,” she said. “I mean, it’s heartbreaking, but it’s good to know that people, even after a year-and-a-half, definitely have not forgotten.”

Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta’s absence was felt immediately in the Greenport community following her death. Hundreds of mourners gathered for a candlelight vigil in her honor, and many former students she had touched who could not attend reached out to express their condolences. 

“We got phone calls from students who were in Vietnam, Australia, England, Texas, California, all over,” Ms. Goldsmith said. “And they still keep in touch with me.”

At Greenport High School, Mike Sage, a senior class co-advisor who helped with Ms. Goldsmith’s recent fundraiser and was a lifelong friend of her daughter, said his fellow special education teacher’s presence is still felt. For her lasting personal and professional impact on her school and community, she was posthumously chosen The Suffolk Times’ 2022 Educator of the Year.

“She’s gonna be hard to forget, she was a very special person,” Mr. Sage said. “She had a heart of gold. If I can be half the teacher she was, half the person she was, I’d be very proud of myself. 

“She had an impact on kids … she would get to know them,” he continued. “She had a good knack for being able to find kids that needed a little extra guidance.”

Although she never had Ms. Goldsmith-Agosta as a teacher, Aleyna Gungor, one of the seniors who helped with the fundraiser, remembered her Tuesday evening for the conversations she’d have with any student who wandered into her third-floor classroom.

“It could be from academic stress to what you’re going through with your personal life,” said Aleyna, 17. “She was always there with good advice.”