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Top Stories 2021: Aquebogue teacher remembered as a ‘superhero’

In April, the community mourned Keri Stromski, the beloved Aquebogue schoolteacher, who died at age 48 of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

Days before her death, a parade of nearly 100 vehicles decked out with messages of love and Blue Wave pride was held to show appreciation and support for Ms. Stromski and her family as well as help collect donations for her ongoing medical costs.

After her diagnosis in 2016, Ms. Stromski became a fierce advocate for funding and research for metastatic cancers all while continuing to teach kindergarten and rally for a host of education issues including equitable funding for Riverhead and the effects of high-stakes testing on children.

In March, Ms. Stromski — the News-Review’s 2013 Educator of the Year — and kindergarten student Avery Green went viral on Good Morning America after the then-five-year-old and his family created a “hugging machine” for COVID-safe hugs.

A “Stromski Strong” sign outside Aquebogue Elementary School in support of teacher Keri Stromski. (Courtesy of Christine Springer)

Since her death, tributes for Ms. Stromski have poured in from near and far.

In May, students at St. David’s preschool used proceeds from a lemonade stand to plant a garden in the teacher’s memory. A pink ribbon and her initials appeared on the warmup jerseys for the Riverhead girls lacrosse team last fall. A new playground and benches at one of her favorite spots, Iron Pier Beach, will be dedicated to Ms. Stromski. And at Aquebogue school, an outdoor learning area will be named for Ms. Stromski.

Adding to that legacy, the North Fork Breast Health Coalition has also announced that their Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund has been established in her honor.

According to NFBHC vice president Melanie McEvoy Zuhoski, it will provide funds to active labs of oncologists who are doing cutting-edge research on stage 4 breast cancer. The fund will also provide financial support and resources to patients from the North Fork and Riverhead area dealing with a late-stage breast cancer diagnosis.