1.Tell us about yourself and your role as principal at SD Spady Montessori?
My name is Rona Kaufman Tata. I was born and raised in New York and grew up in a small town known as New City in Rockland County. After graduating high school, I attended Boston University to study Special Education. It was during my freshman year that I met Steve Tata from Boca Raton. With my bachelor’s degree in hand, I decided to make the leap and moved to Florida with Steve. I began my first teaching job in Pompano Beach and started graduate school at Nova University. I received my master’s degree in educational leadership, 9 months pregnant with our first child, Marissa. Alyson and Korey followed in the years ahead and when Korey was about one year old we settled into our family home in Delray Beach. I took a job at Banyan Creek Elementary as a special education teacher and the kids and I basically grew up there. The children flourished in their studies and I was mentored by Principal Bill Fay. When ready, I received the position as Assistant Principal at SD Spady Elementary, a Montessori Magnet program also in Delray. The Montessori world was new to me but I was quickly at ease in my environment as the parallels of special education and Montessori education were well aligned. I found a new avenue for teaching styles and meeting students need under the direction and guidance of Principal Martha O’Hare. In 2012, I was named the ninth principal of SD Spady Elementary and it gives me a great honor to follow a long line of master educators that started the school, beginning with its name sake Solomon David Spady in 1958.
- Tell us about your journey with breast cancer.
In January of 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram. With no real time to think I was thrust into a new world of doctors, technicians, medical terms and scary looking machines and devices. Dr. Stewart Newman, my obgyn for the last 25 years, guided and coached me through every step introducing to me new doctors at Lynn Cancer Iinstitute. My journey started with lumpectomy surgery followed by targeted boost radiation and general radiation every day for 4 weeks. Following strict orders from my doctors regarding rest and follow ups, I found that my recovery allowed me to continue to work with the school and not miss a day during my treatments. Today I am on an anti-estrogen medication called tamoxifen, I see my doctors regularly for checkups, and I feel great!
- You recently participated in the 2019 Susan G. Komen Race for Cure as a Warrior in Pink. How did you get involved?
I actually began my work with Susan G. Komen Florida years ago through Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach. I served as the community service chairperson. At the urging of Rabbi Fratello, we formed the team and each year the temple begins the race with a minyon service and prayer for those surviving, those we have lost and those walking to find a cure. This year I have formed a new team with the Spady Elementary family. The family that had my back (and my front) during my treatment. As a play on my last name and meaning “no worries”, we are called Hakunah Ma Tata at Spady Elementary. One of our teachers, Ruthie Santiago, a 9-year survivor, and myself lead the team. It was emotional, inspirational and truly amazing. I am honored to be able to use my experience to help others.
- What is your advice for women going through what you went through? Is Komen doing anything exciting that is getting us even closer to a cure?
By sharing openly my own diagnosis and story, I am have learned so much about so many women who do not follow the advice of doctors and miss having their yearly mammograms. I do my own encouraging for my friends, family and colleagues. I hope that by sharing my story and what it was like that I can ease any fears. Early detection is key. Komen provides so many ways, many that are such easy access for women to take care of themselves. Should anyone find them selves, as I did with a cancer diagnosis, I encourage you to trust your medical team, surround yourself with love and support, take one step at a time and believe you’ve got this.
- We heard you live in Delray Beach. What is your ideal way to spend the day in Delray Beach?
Yes! I am blessed to live the dream and work and live in Delray Beach for the past 23 years. I have raised my family with my husband of 30 years in the 3-time All American City winner. When our family was young, our favorite way to spend the day was in various parks and play grounds around town. We watched Veterans Park be built and countless hours were spent on the massive wood structure that once stood there. Now that our family has grown up, and even expanded with the addition of our beautiful grand-daughter Shayna, we have downsized our large family home and moved to Pineapple Grove. Now our ideal Delray Day is filled with walks to the beach, a stop at a local favorite restaurant or if a Saturday our local green market. My favorite part is being part of the Delray community and knowing our local police officers, fire fighters, commissioners and other Delray families as we walk down the Avenue. My hometown.