PV alumni return as physical education teachers

September 4, 2019

Rachel Cohen
Dana Amato graduated Pascack Valley in 2010 and has since then played softball in Italy and attended Montclair State University before becoming a new physical education teacher.

After graduating from Montclair State University in 2014, Dana Amato played softball in Italy for three months to bring the United States back into the 2020 Summer Olympics. Amato said the attempt was successful. 

“[Amato] is Mother Teresa,” Pascack Valley history teacher and girls basketball coach Jeff Jasper said. “So compassionate, caring and happy. She is always smiling, laughing, and finds the good in everyone.”

Both graduates of PV, Ronald Villone and Amato are new physical education teachers. Amato graduated in 2010 and played varsity basketball and softball all throughout high school, along with helping out with soccer.

‘[My most memorable moment was] probably the last Valley Cup,” Amato said. “The third year of Valley Cup was my senior year. It was the day we had a state game for softball. Television crews were here and it was a great experience.”

Jasper said that as a basketball player, Amato was “a pure delight to coach” and played the post. During her senior year, she was selected as the MVP of the state finals.

Rachel Cohen
A plaque honoring Dana Amato for All County Softball near the new gymnasium.

“As a student, she was a young woman who had the confidence to voice her thoughts and stand by her opinions,” Jasper said. “When she discussed an opposing view, she made you feel comfortable in disagreement. Everyone always remarked how quick and agile she was [in basketball]. She was a total team player.”

Amato originally wanted to become a chef as a freshman and sophomore, but after working with Jasper and being a camp counselor, she realized that she would rather teach. At Montclair State, Amato received a bachelor’s degree in science and a Certificate with Advanced Standings in physical education and health, and continued her softball career. 

“[I look forward] to get back to this community,” Amato said. “I live in Hillsdale. This is my home. It’s good to be back.”

Villone continues sports career at PV

Rachel Cohen
Ronald Villone graduated Pascack Valley in 2015 and is now a new physical education teacher after attending Salisbury University in Maryland.

While at PV, Villone was the Valley Cup director, participated in student government and executive council, played varsity soccer and baseball starting his sophomore year, and was the manager of the basketball team from his freshman to junior year. Now, along with being a physical education teacher, he is the assistant coach for soccer and basketball.

“I had a lot of great opportunities to work with him, especially during his senior year,” Supervisor of Athletics and Physical Education and Student Government Adviser Shawn Buchanan said. “Overall, during his four years, I think if you talked to any teacher in the building that was here, he always stood out as a leader and as a role model for his peers, always doing the right thing and having the best interest of Pascack Valley in mind.”

Villone decided to pursue a career in teaching from the physical education department at PV. 

“My mom’s also a teacher, so it runs in the family,” Villone said. 

Villone went to Salisbury University in Maryland and studied physical education along with playing baseball for all four years. While in Maryland, he realized he wanted to return to the Northern Jersey area. 

“This position opened, and I had such a great experience here and so many great role models and influences in my life,” Villone said. “Hopefully I can be that for younger students.”

Buchanan said that there was an extensive search for new physical education teachers and Villone “stood out because he was a tremendous part of our history here.” 

“I’m excited to see him in this role and know what impact he had as a student here, and I think he’s going to have a greater impact now that he can be a teacher and coach within the building and help work with our current students,” Buchanan said. “I think it’s going to be a perfect fit for everybody.”

Contributed by Ronald Villone
Ronald Villone and his sister at the Pascack Valley graduation for the class of 2015.
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