Welcoming Students Back to School:
First Day of School at E.M. Baker,
Posing for a "Pic" as the Buses Roll In:
First Day of School at Lakeville,
Friendly Face with Prinicipal Eric Nezowitz:
First Day of School at Saddle Rock,
Greetings with Principal Debbie Shalom:
First Day of School at Parkville,
Superintendent of Schools
Another School Year Begins: Community Can Nurture Students' Dreams & Aspirations
By Dr. Thomas P. Dolan, Superintendent of Schools
"School"--even the word can be evocative. Personal memories are summoned up as school experiences come to mind, and often those recollections generate powerful feelings. Because these memories can be so emotionally laden, they can lead to a sense of nostalgia. We tend to remember our school, our teachers, our classmates, and our learning experiences. Some of you have heard me express concern when parents joyfully exclaim that some aspect of the school their child attends reminds them of their own experiences. Educational stagnation is never good, as schools need to grow and change with the times if they are to meet the needs of today's students.
While the opening of school can accentuate these personal reactions, schools are fortunate to have a veritable "starting line" that offers a chance to annually recommit and rededicate ourselves. I still remember my first day of school some decades ago, and I can still recall those important first days for my own five children. This year, I will be standing at the bus stop once again as I watch my first grandson head off to his first day of school. The excitement in his household is palpable as he prepares for this important journey. This experience also serves to remind me what is important about this place we call school.
Ultimately, it is about the relationship that an individual child has with his or her school that will be both the strongest predictor of success and the strongest memory after graduation. What we do to enhance that relationship is the most important work in which we can engage. It calls upon all groups to trust one another, to communicate concerns effectively, and, most importantly, to start with the assumption that we all want the best for our students. There is no room for any other motivation as we support our students in their endeavors.
Despite obstacles from state and federal agencies, it is entirely within the power of the Great Neck community to support our students' efforts by participating in the nurturing of our students' dreams and aspirations. We can collectively be proud of what they accomplish as we contribute to their successes. You will read and hear about those achievements throughout the year and I hope you will take some credit for them.
One change that we can count on is the arrival of new staff to take the place of those who have moved on to other chapters in their lives. We welcome many new teachers and support staff who have been carefully vetted and selected for their positions by way of a very thorough process. Every one of the new teachers I interviewed this summer, and in my previous five summers, has shared with me the experiences that they had as a student which helped to lead them to teaching, and they have done so with great emotion.
Among those we welcome this year is Kathleen Murray, as new assistant principal at the John F. Kennedy School. Ms. Murray comes to us after serving as an assistant principal in the Manhasset School District. She arrives with great experience and superb skills. Ms. Murray replaces Peg Katz, who accepted a position as principal at an elementary school in California.
The aforementioned nostalgia will be particularly powerful this school year as the Great Neck Public Schools celebrates its 200th Anniversary. Just think--Union Free School District Number 7 began as a public school entity in 1814, during the second administration of President James Madison. Our Board of Education will be seeking input from the school-based Shared Decision Making Committees and community groups on how we can best commemorate this important milestone in the district's history.
School begins for all students on Wednesday, September 3. The first few days, although exciting, will undoubtedly have students adjusting to new teachers and even a new school. There will also be adjustments as transportation schedules--"bumps in the road"--become more routine. Rest assured that we will make all necessary adjustments as we begin what will surely be another great school year for students, parents, teachers, and administrators as we collectively embark upon the district's third century!
Engaging in a Class Discussion:
First Day of School at J.F. Kennedy,