Suzanna Koski-Cincotti

August 7, 2013

Union Street, Hudson, NY


Katharine Umstead

Katharine Umstead
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Suzanna Cincotti has lived at 442 East Allen St. for 19 years, as of 2013. Suzanna was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; her mother was from Marianna, Arkansas, and her father from Escanaba, Michigan. Her husband Arthur was a competitive ballroom dancer. He studied in Rhode Island and then went to Roger Williams College and studied Theater. Then he moved to NYC to perform off Broadway. 

Prior to their marriage, Arthur went to Sotheby’s in Claverack for a tour and interview, and then received a job offer. They moved from NYC to a rental house on Joslen Blvd. Her son and nephew went to John L. Edwards School, then to Greenport School. 21 years ago Suzanna said Warren Street was a mess. Most storefronts were closed up and derelict, but Arthur loved the architecture. They wanted to buy a house and started looking in Philmont, Germantown, etc. When they saw the house on East Allen Street off of Fifth Street, they bought it. Partition Street, one of the oldest streets in Hudson, is an alley behind their house. Arthur decided to start a carpentry business in Hudson, converting their garage to his shop. He worked for antique dealers on Warren Street like Tom Noonan, Alan Burn, and Alphonse Sutter. 

Suzanna worked for United Cerebral Palsy of Albany when they were building a nursery/ daycare and Pre-K on 5th and Warren Streets. She worked there for 4 years. Suzanna taught at Parson Child Family Services after her work with the United Cerebral Palsy of Albany. She was a teacher for emotional disturbances; autistic, mentally disturbed from birth to death. She was a  special education teacher and worked with everyone from infants in their homes to the geriatric mentally retarded and learning disabled. 

They had two girls, Sarah and Shannon, as well as Suzanna’s son Adam and her nephew Andrew, who went back to his mother in New Jersey in 4th grade. When the children were still young, they walked them to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club because it didn’t feel safe to go below 4th Street and definitely not to 3rd Street alone. The children played Little League baseball, basketball, and participated in the Flag Day Parade. They spent their summers at Oakdale Beach in swimming classes. Suzanna said that Hudson has so much to offer like theater, a riverfront, parks, parades, the Firemen’s Home events, and museums.

Adam stayed at public school until 6th grade. But the 7th graders were now going to high school. They decided that rather than going to Hudson High School, Adam would go to Faith Christian Academy in Stottville. Suzanna taught special education and history there for four years to get a break for tuition. The Faith Christian Academy closed during his junior year so Adam then went to Hudson High School. A position for special needs students opened in the high school that same year and Suzanna accepted it. In 2013 Suzanna started her 14th year teaching at Hudson High School.

After Faith Christian closed, her girls went to Northern Dutchess Christian School in Red Hook. Both parents also home-schooled their girls. It was attractive because the girls had been in a small Christian setting. Hudson has a large home-school population with offerings like a choir, groups for science activities, etc. All her kids took dancing classes like Swing and Ballroom at Columbia-Greene Community College. Sarah entered Hudson High School in 11th grade, and after graduation went into the Navy as Medic corpsman. Shannon entered Hudson High School for the 10th grade and after graduation went to SUNY Delphi to study to be a Tech Vet. 

The family has attended several different churches in Hudson. They currently attend Rock Solid Church. Rock Solid has a very large and diverse congregation. It is an Independent Full Gospel Church that supports missions, an orphanage in Haiti, and churches in Guatemala, India and Africa. Rock Solid has two mission trips every year. Currently a Pakistan group is being supported. 

The first  church they attended was the Methodist on Joslen Blvd. Their participation with the Interfaith Council brought them to Shiloh Baptist Church, involved them with AME Zion Church, and brought them physically into lower Hudson. Arthur was raised Catholic, so they also know Father Bath at St. Mary’s Church, Father John at Christ Church, as well as the pastor at the Lutheran Church. Suzanna talked about the wonderfully diverse denominations of Hudson. She said she has Bangladeshi friends as well as a friendship with Rabbi Fried too. Suzanna thinks this has been wonderful for her children growing up.  

Suzanna stated that the familiarity with an international population growing up in Hudson prepares students well for their later or college years in meeting other students of other nationalities. In addition there is the pleasure of experiencing culturally diverse food and a great mix of human beings. 

Suzanna discussed how Warren Street has blossomed during these years, but has also lost significant businesses that were big employers of low-skilled labor. Specifically she mentioned the Button Factory, L&B furniture, Kaz, and more. They were outsourced or relocated internationally, impacting employment for this specific population. She said that today there are just more service oriented jobs and not enough unskilled labor jobs. 

As a teacher for special education, Suzanna was able to help prepare her students to work at Kaz or other factories for assembly line work. These types of opportunities for students who have limitations are very small. She said that Questar has moved more to college prep rather than teaching for the trades. 

Solutions could be tried to get labor/factory back to this area but students are being prepared for service jobs. Are those salaries livable, she asked? It’s not just Hudson but an American problem. We should bring manufacturing back, she said.

Some of her students are attempting to go to Columbia-Greene Community College, or taking service jobs at Walmart, etc., or leaving Hudson for work in Albany, Kingston or Poughkeepsie, becoming welfare recipients or entering the military. 

She also addressed the dichotomy of the Hudson High School graduation rate. There are different percentages for Caucasian vs. African American/Hispanic students. Suzanna discussed the financial cuts that have impacted the number of teachers hired and fired, and available electives. Too many study halls result in fewer credits so the student needs longer to graduate. No credits are received when a student fails a class, they must then repeat classes to earn credit. She also added that for some students growing up with generational welfare they may not see the value in education. Suzanna stated that Hudson High School is actually an inner city urban school with issues like drugs, gangs, teen pregnancy and students living in poverty getting free or reduced lunches. African-American and Hispanic students seem to gravitate to gangs. She said that she has seen gang colors, drugs in schools, and students inebriated. Students who take more than four years to graduate or have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or local diplomas do not count as a graduate, skewing the number of graduates. 

During 9/11 Suzanna was in her classroom watching as the second plane hit the Tower. Most classrooms had a TV. She worked hard trying to maintain calm, those weeks were very tense and frightening. But the staff was very good. 

When asked what she hopes to see for Hudson in 20 years, she said she hopes it will continue to grow, and stay diverse. There have been historical cycles in Hudson. Even if there is a dip, Hudson will come back. The dichotomy is an American issue, not just Hudson. We need more low-skilled jobs here; like Columbia Memorial Hospital is an employer of low-skilled service jobs. Hudson is a tourist destination as well as a great place to live. With more hotels and B & Bs and the fact that it is drivable from many areas, it will continue to do well.


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Katharine Umstead

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