By Dr. Teresa Prendergast
The start of a new school year is always an exciting time, not only for our students, but for our families and staff, as well. I hope everyone had a rewarding and enjoyable break, and that you are now ready for new challenges and opportunities in the coming school year.
The summer months are always a busy time for our school staff and central office personnel, and this summer was no exception. Thanks to the efforts of our custodial and maintenance staff, our school buildings and campuses look immaculate. The faculty has prepared the classrooms to welcome our students and our clerical staff worked throughout the summer to address stakeholder needs and ensure a successful start to the school year.
This term, we welcome Dr. Heather Sweet as the new assistant principal at the E.M. Baker School. She replaces Jeffrey Ryvicker, who was recently appointed the school superintendent of the Quogue School District. Dr. Sweet comes to us after serving as an assistant principal at P.S. 100 in Ozone Park, Queens. However, she is no stranger to the Great Neck school community, having served as a part-time counselor at the Adult Learning Center for eight years.
Last year, our district’s accomplishments were beyond praiseworthy, from monetary responsibilities to academic achievements. During a challenging fiscal climate, we worked together to build and support a 2016–17 school district budget that will keep our programs and services intact, despite the impact of a broad range of state mandates and non-discretionary financial obligations. In May, more than 84 percent of voters in our community overwhelmingly supported the district budget. Due to the tax-levy limit laws, we will continue to plan and manage our school district budget responsibly, and we thank the community for supporting our public schools by voting to finance the resources needed to educate our students.
Great Neck has a long tradition of academic excellence, coupled with a strong commitment to the success of every student. Our mission is to provide all students with programs of excellence that instill a passion for lifelong learning, while preparing them for the challenges of tomorrow. Our employees, regardless of their position, are highly qualified professionals who care deeply about the success of our students. In addition, the tremendous support we receive from our parents and community partners makes our schools even better.
The past school year saw our students excel in every arena: in the classroom, on the athletic field, in the performing arts and through extracurricular activities. Our students continue to soar far above state and national averages on every standardized measure of achievement. Additionally, students involved in our science research programs find success in a variety of regional and national competitions. Our tradition of excellence continues in music, the arts, athletics, community service and character education. I’ve had the pleasure of attending numerous school activities and events in the past school year, and I can personally attest to the fact that our students are indeed receiving a world-class education.
The Great Neck Public Schools continue to be ranked among the top schools in the country on all the well-known rating scales. In recent weeks, many of our schools have been recognized at the state and national level. While criteria for each media source varies, we are, nonetheless, very proud of the accomplishments of our students and faculty.
Newsweek magazine released its top 500 high schools in the country, and South High ranked at 38 (placing first on Long Island); North High ranked at 145 (placing sixth on Long Island). U.S. News and World Report released its 2016 rankings of the best high schools in the nation, and South High ranked 136th in the nation, 22nd in New York State and third-best high school on Long Island.
Niche’s 2016 rankings of the best school districts in New York State placed the Great Neck Public Schools third. Of the top 100 elementary schools in New York State, Lakeville ranked fourth, E.M. Baker ranked 11th, John F. Kennedy ranked 22nd and Saddle Rock ranked 24th. At the middle-school level, South Middle ranked second and North Middle ranked ninth. At the high-school level, South High ranked fifth and North High ranked 26th.
We look forward to the 2016–17 academic year with enthusiasm and optimism. Please consider attending our concerts, athletic events, celebrations of achievement and meetings, including those of the Board of Education. Our school district calendar and our website, www.greatneck.k12.ny.us, are excellent sources of information. I would also encourage you to watch for the latest school news and information carried on educational television stations, Cablevision Optimum Channel 75 and Verizon FIOS Channel 32.
The Board of Education joins me in extending our best wishes to all students, parents and employees for a dynamic school year filled with many excellent opportunities. Working together, we will continue to inspire success and a lifetime of learning. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your superintendent of schools and I wish you all a healthy, productive and rewarding school year.