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HFEE Honoree Suzette Biagi Credits a Love of Teaching as Inspiration for Help Others

Her journey to becoming a Business Education teacher at Huntington High School could be categorized as long and winding, but Ms. Suzette Biagi, this year’s HFEE Gala honoree, would not have it any other way.

Ms. Biagi started her teaching career later than most. After she had her first two children and was at a crossroads in life, she decided to go back to school as an adult. Looking back, her life experience and untraditional path forward, just may be her “superpower” and why she is one of the most beloved educators at Huntington High School.

“I was an ‘older’ new teacher when I started at Huntington High School,” Ms. Biagi recalled. “I literally cried when I found out I was selected to be a student-teacher in the community where I was raising my children. I had gone to night school for eight straight years with the support of family and friends. During that time, I worked as a nanny for two local families, ran programs at the YMCA, clerked at Huntington Hospital and was a Fair Housing representative and administrative assistant at a local real estate firm just to get here. When I graduated with my teaching degree, Huntington immediately hired me as a Business Education teacher – I was on top of the world.”

A transplant from California, Ms. Biagi moved to Huntington and attended Huntington High School. Through her own admission, she was not always the most diligent student, but perhaps this experience was what led her to her greatest achievements and personal mantra of “Follow your dreams, no matter what anyone says.”

Today, Ms. Biagi holds two master’s degrees, one from NYIT and the other from Adelphi.

As a student teacher, she felt extremely blessed due to her four cooperating teachers from the Business Department: Leslie Mitek, Mary Pisacano, Anise Cherry and Ed Parry; all of whom gave her the opportunity to teach a variety of classes.  She noted, “I fell in love with the practicality of the business courses and how applicable they were to real life. Later, the district funded my second masters in English as a Second Language (ESL), and I became an ESL teacher.  I taught everything from Global Studies to Biology and even Algebra while I ran the ESL center. Working for seven years with ESL students in our district plus nine years for Western Suffolk BOCES, in summer school. This work was some of the most compelling work I have ever done.”

“The variety of opportunities that Huntington has given me is astounding. With every new opportunity, I feel like I am the ‘lucky one,’ especially since, once upon a time, I was that underachieving kid who needed loving support and guidance to get through her high school years.”

In addition to her teaching job, Ms. Biagi is an advisor to three of the high school’s most high-profile extracurricular student activities. One of which is the Huntington High School Mock Trial Team. She, along with co-advisors, Bryan Outsen, and Xavier Palacios, HUFSD board member and attorney, have led this outstanding group of students to three Suffolk County Championships of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Mock Trial Tournament, winning the Region in (2018, 2022 and 2023). This culminated in competing at the state level at the NYSBA Mock State Championships in Albany, where the team placed second in 2022 and third in 2023.

Another is the Huntington High School GrandFriends with fellow teacher, Lauren Blackburn. This group provides social engagement between students and senior citizens at the Town of Huntington Senior Center and at Sunrise Assisted Living on West Hills Road.

Lastly, she co-advises the A World of Difference Peer Trainers (AWOD), with Dr. Erica Jessen. An anti-bias peer training program that focuses on teaching civility and deep appreciation of diversity. Together they help students explore their own implicit biases, talk about community issues, and write curriculum addressing “hard to talk about” topics such as bullying, invisible disabilities and peer pressure geared toward programing they run for the new members and their younger peers throughout the district.

Passionate about helping others and making a difference in the Huntington community, Ms. Biagi is a volunteer EMT at Huntington Community First Aide Squad. In her words, “I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, do something that made me feel energized and fueled my passion to keep learning and serving others.”

A loving mother and grandmother, Ms. Biagi is the embodiment of strength and wisdom. She embraces life with her partner Tim Quigley and enjoys living in Huntington.

When asked how she finds the time to do so much and give back to so many, Ms. Biagi responded, “All I can say is, I love being a teacher. I still cannot believe sometimes that I get paid to do something that gives me such joy, and I cannot imagine a better profession for me.  My students, my experiences, be they heartaches or joys, have given me the greatest gift – a life filled with meaning and few regrets.”

We, at HFEE, and the Huntington community you serve, thank you whole-heartedly for all that you do, Ms. Biagi. You are a gift to Huntington!