Single copies 75¢

Tributes abound for beloved teacher

Martha Snegroff
 
By Kris DiLorenzo

ARDSLEY — Ardsley Middle School teacher Martha Snegroff loved frogs. So on June 10, four days after she died of pancreatic cancer, Snegroff's fifth- and sixth-graders wore green to school in her honor. The following day a memorial service was held at the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester in White Plains, attended by approximately 200 people.

Snegroff, 72, had taught at AMS for 49 years. She came to work, including while undergoing chemotherapy, up until two weeks before her death on June 6 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. One bright spot during treatment was discovering that her oncologist was a former student of hers.

“She was a remarkable woman,” said AMS Principal JoAnne Januzzi. “She told me she had been teaching for 51 years, and had no intentions to retire.” Schools Superintendent Lauren Allan, who was a student at AMS when she first met Snegroff, elaborated: “She was still coming in every day with the same enthusiasm and passion for science and for kids.”

Snegroff, a White Plains resident for 38 years, earned her B.A. in education from Hunter College and her M.A. in education from City College of New York, both part of The City University of New York. The Bronx native taught reading for the first 35 years of her career, for three years in the Bronx at P.S. 70 Max Schoenfeld School, and then at AMS.

When she switched to teaching science, Snegroff unexpectedly fell in love with it, her daughter, Courtney Snegroff, told the Enterprise. In 2007 her mother earned a Siemens Science Teacher Award from the Siemens Foundation in recognition of her exceptional achievement. That same year she appeared on ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” in a segment about the use of technology in the classroom. It's feasible that her zeal for the subject even influenced sixth-grader Mark Zuckerberg, who attended district schools through his sophomore year of high school and later co-founded Facebook.

Whether teaching reading or science, Snegroff developed supportive relationships with students who were struggling. “They would have lunch with her in the classroom,” Courtney Snegroff said, “and she would think of projects for them to do, so they felt they had a purpose. She would make them feel needed.” Januzzi noted her “caring, warm manner with children.”

During his time as AMS principal, from fall 2010 to spring 2015, Edgar McIntosh, now the director of Instruction and Human Resources for the Briarcliff Manor School District, became a Martha Snegroff fan. At her June 11 memorial, McIntosh captured the admiration and affection she engendered: “At various points I asked myself: Who is this woman with all this energy? Who is this passionate teacher with the funny hats and the photo of the monkey on her shoulder? Who is this veteran teacher who also has the technology innovation trophy with its very own trophy case? Who is this teacher who inspires riotous applause during the annual faculty versus eighth grade volleyball game — where students made signs, shook the gym with their cheers, and chanted her nickname, ‘Sneggie! Sneggie! Sneggie!’ Who is this teacher who is so loved?”

Courtney Snegroff, who is 38 and works in Boston at the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, attended AMS beginning in the seventh grade. She recalled how much work meant to her mother. “She got love out of it,” she explained. “We always knew about her love of teaching and how people loved her.” Even during chemotherapy sessions, Martha Snegroff thought about her students, and was unhappy about missing the scientific experiments she had planned for them.

She showed the same caring and patience with dogs. “She was an animal lover,” her daughter said. “She rescued dogs who had been treated poorly and worked with them so they were no longer afraid of the world.”

In addition to her daughter, Snegroff is survived by her husband, Stan, 73; brother, David Bennett, 76; and grandson, Caeden, 3. Courtney Snegroff and her partner, Jackson Ravenscroft, are expecting their second son later this month.

Student reactions to Snegroff’s death were a testament to how she touched their lives. They posted comments about her on Facebook, and one teacher delivered to the Snegroff home a large box containing hundreds of pieces of artwork, cards, and goodbye messages that were exhibited at the memorial.

Lauren Berliner, assistant professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington- Bothell, was a sixth-grade student of Snegroff’s in 1987. She wrote in an e-mail to Snegroff’s daughter: "Her class was the first time my passion for books was not only met, but also increased, and she inspired a level of creativity in us all that I firmly believe changed my expectations about what was possible for the life of the mind. Here I am, years later, a teacher myself, and I truly believe that my love for analyzing texts, talking to others about them, and engaging in new and creative ways began with her.

"She had some of the most creative assignments — we put book characters on trial; we did dances and plays about other characters — the books all just opened up and came to life for us,” Berliner continued. “We became the characters, and all of the students shared the same world. World-making is so important and powerful for kids, and she held the master key to the door of alternative ways of being and thinking."

Allan concurred. “Martha was turning students on to the joys and wonders of science, and making it a course they not only loved but also succeeded in.” She summarized Martha Snegroff in simple terms: “She was a gem.”


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the Rivertowns Enterprise. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


 

June 17, 2016

HOME     |     SUBSCRIBE     |     ADVERTISE     |     Archives   |   NEWSROOM

NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Ardsley

Ardsley Market Fresh

DeCicco's

Madaba Deli

Stars Bagels


Dobbs Ferry

Battaglia Brothers

Dobbs Ferry Cafe

Getty Station

Hudson Social

Jay's Stationery

NY Bagel Authority

Nonna’s Parkside Deli

T&D 5 Star Deli

Willoughby's

Hastings

Farragut Stationery

Hastings Station Cafe

Hastings Stationery

K's Cards

Madaba Deli


Irvington

Geordanes

Shell Station

Zarrilli's Deli


Tarrytown

Tappan Zee Stationery

The Rivertowns Enterprise is available from our office at 95 Main Street, Dobbs Ferry, and at these locations:

Locations updated 6/3/16