Community and connections have made all the difference on assistant school principals Diantha Barone and Christine Rascona’s leadership paths. Helping foster these supports for others is at the heart of their work in growing NYSAWA’s Lower Hudson Valley affiliate, which was established in February 2021.
Two remarkable women, Diantha Barone, and Christine Rascona, have emerged as beacons of inspiration in the Lower Hudson Valley (LHV) affiliate. With their unwavering dedication to education, profound belief in the power of mentorship, and a strong emphasis on personal and professional support systems, they have played instrumental roles in transforming lives and fostering a culture of empowerment. Together with Dr. Colleen Carroll, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Port Chester–Rye Union Free School District and Vice Chair of NYSAWA, they form a dynamic trio that leads with passion and empowers others to reach new heights.
Diantha Barone, the assistant principal of Port Chester Middle School in the Port Chester–Rye Union Free School District, is a founding member and co-chair of the LHV affiliate along with colleague Colleen Carroll. Barone has 16 years of experience in education, including teaching, consulting, curriculum/program supervision and administration.
Christine Rascona, also an assistant principal with the Port Chester Middle School, is also a founding member and the affiliate’s recording secretary. Christine has 21 years of experience in education, including teaching, various leader and support roles, curriculum/program supervision, and administration.
The power of networking and mentorship
Diantha and Christine firmly believe mentorship is the cornerstone of personal and professional growth. They know firsthand that guidance and support from experienced individuals can provide invaluable insights, open doors to opportunities, and build the confidence necessary for success. As passionate advocates for networking and mentorship, they are dedicated to nurturing the next generation of leaders within the LHV affiliate.
“There are wonderful opportunities for people if they have the right person to inspire and motivate them and encourage them,” Christine said. “Networking has helped me to hear others’ experiences. There is no one path answer. You have to figure out your path and what feels right.”
When it comes to inspiration, Diantha credits her mother who always encouraged her to stand up for what’s right and fight to have her voice heard, as well as Dr. Carroll for giving her an additional boost when she needs it.
“Colleen gave us a seat at the table, and she supports women at all career levels,” said Diantha, who is motivated to ensure she and the LHV affiliate facilitates this for others.
“In turn, we mentor others,” said Christine.
Paying it forward
Knowing the significant impact an ecosystem of collaboration, encouragement, and collective growth has had for them, Diantha and Christine are committed to helping foster these sorts of supports for others, too. This means ensuring every individual in the LHV affiliate feels valued, supported, and equipped with the necessary resources to thrive.
“NYSAWA events are energizing. We all relate to each other and how we feel at certain times of the year,” Christine said. “It’s nice to know our neighbors are feeling the same way and let them lift us back up and inspire us to keep going.”
To this end, their affiliate has hosted events on such topics as networking across area school districts, providing a setting to inform and strengthen leadership roles, transform teaching practices, and even offering resume support services.
“These events bring inspirational moments that not only solve in-the-moment problems but help us unlock something larger,” said Diantha.
Diantha and Christine recognize that teamwork is an essential ingredient in achieving organizational success. Their belief in the power of teamwork is what drives the LHV affiliate to reach new heights and make a lasting impact on the community they serve.
“Together we think of ideas to get people together and feel connected,” Diantha said.
“We started building our affiliate by reaching out to everyone we knew who was a leader or aspiring to be one,” Christine added. This “forward networking” approach has allowed them to build a robust affiliate, whose events now average 70 attendees.
Diantha and Christine hold firm the belief that everyone has a personal journey and their opportunity for success is strengthened by having a supportive network of colleagues. NYSAWA offers women and men of all career levels the ability to share, teach and foster this sort of support team.
“It’s about community and connection. Being able to be inspired by others. Being at the proverbial table with like minds that want to do more and are at every stage of their career,” Diantha said.
“NYSAWA helps us build relationships and empower us all,” added Christine.
Connect with an NYSAWA affiliate
Affiliates are geographical chapters of NYSAWA, made up of regional members working together in their communities to advance women and men in education. They achieve this by providing support, networking opportunities, and professional development for women in educational leadership positions in their local areas. Learn more and connect with a NYSAWA affiliate in your region.
Regardless of your geographical location, there are several ways you can learn more from the Diantha, Christine, and the Lower Hudson Valley affiliate. Follow the Lower Hudson Valley affiliate on Twitter or email them at LHV.NYSAWA@gmail.com.
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