Education’s been in Mark Cannizzaro’s heart for most of his adult life. He’s been one in New York for more than 35 years and is, himself, the product of the city’s public school system.

Cannizzaro, the son of a Korean war veteran and a school secretary, had plans to go a similar blue-collar route and join the NYPD or the FDNY. However, teachers and educators inspired him to save and protect lives within the school walls instead.

The Staten Island native got his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from SUNY Courtlan (1986), followed by a master’s in Special Education (1990) and sixth-year certificate in Supervision and Administration (1993) from the College of Staten Island. Cannizzaro’s accolades don’t stop there. He completed studies at Cornell University’s AFL-CIO Union Leadership Institute in 2014. He constructed an education to build him into the man that would provide it to others.

Cannizzaro started teaching physical education at Totten Intermediate School on Staten Island in 1994. While there he received the Angela Zirpiades Outstanding Physical

Educator Award. The following year, he was named assistant principal at Totten and almost a decade later, he was named principal of Paulo Intermediate School, which was recognized as a middle school by Region 7 in 2005.

The now principal started his union career in 2006, getting active through his tenue as District 31’s assistant district chair. That same year, Cannizzaro was elected as one of CSA’s vice presidents and in 2008 he served as a secretary while still keeping his VP position. He was named CSA executive vice president in September 2012 and served as the union’s chief negotiator from 2012-2017, where he successfully negotiated the current collective bargaining agreement. On Sept. 1, 2017, Cannizzaro was elected CSA President. Since October 2015, Cannizzaro has also served as the president of the New York State Federation of School Administrators (NYSFSA). He’s also a member of the NY Academy of Public Education and the Middle School Principals’ Association of NYC, where served as MSPA’s president from 2009-2011.

Cannizzaro’s has received numerous honors including the 2008 Entertainers4Education Outstanding Leadership Award, a 2009 Cahn Fellowship from the Teachers College of Columbia University, the 2013 Educator of the Year award from St. John’s University’s Phi Delta Kappa International, the Emerald Society’s 2015 Irish Pro de Patria Award, the 2016 Thomas C. Giordano Leadership in Education Award from the Forum of Italian American Educators, and the 2019 Medalist Award from the New York Academy of Public Education.