Dr. Teresa Prendergast, superintendent of the Great Neck Public Schools, talks about new staff, building improvements and a commitment to excellence
The start of a new school year is filled with enthusiasm for parents, students and educators. Children in Great Neck were welcomed with open arms this week as they experienced their first day back to school on Sept. 5. Any first-day jitters were quickly eased as our students were introduced to their teachers and reconnected with their classmates. The energy in our schools was contagious, fueled by the smiles of lively students, excited parents and teachers eager to get the new school year underway.
Welcoming New Administrators and Faculty
This year, we welcome several new administrators who have been carefully vetted and selected for their positions by way of a very thorough selection-committee process.
Dr. Gina Cartolano, who previously served as the assistant principal at South Middle School for the past 12 years, has been appointed as principal, succeeding Dr. James Welsch, who retired in July.
Luciana Bradley, who previously served as the assistant principal of Saddle Rock School for the past 13 years, succeeds Dr. Michael Mensch, who served as the interim principal last year.
Kathleen Murray, who served as the assistant principal at J.F. Kennedy School for four years, has been appointed principal of Parkville School, following the retirement of Debra Shalom.
Dr. Michael Grimaldi is the principal of E.M. Baker School, having earned the position upon the retirement of Sharon Fougner. Dr. Grimaldi comes to us from the Eastport-South Manor Central School District, where he served as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
We also welcome two new assistant principals at South Middle School: Ryan Nadherny and Leonard DiBiase. Ryan Nadherny previously served as the guidance department head at South Middle for seven years before assuming the position of assistant principal. Leonard DiBiase comes to us from the Lindenhurst Union Free School District, where he served as the principal of Albany Avenue Elementary School and the coordinator of career and technical education and library media specialists.
We also welcome two new elementary assistant principals to Great Neck. Sara Goldberg was appointed as the new assistant principal of Saddle Rock School, having previously served as an assistant principal and a staff developer in the in the New York City public school system. Michelle Bell was appointed as the new assistant principal of J.F. Kennedy School, having previously served as an assistant principal in the Garden City Public Schools.
Each of these administrators brings a wealth of talent and enthusiasm to his or her position, and I know you will join me in welcoming them into the Great Neck family. I will introduce our newly appointed administrators to you later this fall through our televised Focus on Education programs, which are broadcast on GNPS/TV via the district website and over our educational television stations, Cablevision Optimum Channel 75 and Verizon FIOS Channel 32.
We also welcomed more than 40 new teachers this fall. As we predicted, we were able to recruit outstanding applicants to fill the vacant positions that existed in the district. These individuals came to us with excellent experience in terms of their training and former positions, and they are thrilled about the opportunity to continue their careers in the Great Neck Public Schools.
Physical Plant Improvements
Our greatest effort this summer has been the improvements to our physical plant. These capital projects will enhance our facilities, and many of them—including new roofs, windows, masonry projects, ceiling and lighting replacement projects, bathroom reconstructions, a science lab reconstruction, and walkways and roadways—were completed prior to the opening of school. One of the more challenging projects this summer included the window replacement project at Saddle Rock School; this project is expected to continue into the fall, and we will keep you informed as to its status and that of other projects throughout the school year. Photographs of the completed work will be shared with the community via our district website, www.greatneck.k12.ny.us, and district publications throughout the school year.
Commitment to Excellence
“The Great Neck Public School District provides an innovative and collaborative educational environment that supports academic excellence and the social and emotional growth of all students so that they may become lifelong learners and compassionate, productive members of a diverse, global society.” This mission statement is stewarded by our dedicated faculty and staff, who guide and encourage our students to reach their full potential. As we begin our new school year, we invite you to visit the district website and your child’s school website for the latest information, news and announcements. We have also expanded our presence on social media, so be sure to follow us on Facebook.
Our district continues to be ranked among the top schools in the country on all the well-known rating scales. Recently, our school district was ranked by Niche.com as the second-best school district in New York State and the seventh-best school district in the country. This past spring, our schools were included in the U.S. News & World Report annual list of Best High Schools in the nation. This type of recognition is only possible with the support of an entire community, and I thank all our residents for your contributions to our successful school system.
It is an honor and privilege to serve as superintendent for the Great Neck Public Schools. Our schools are stronger because they are embedded in a community that takes pride in the success of its students. In keeping with our motto, “Where Discovery Leads to Greatness,” we will continue to inspire success and a lifetime of learning for our students. I look forward to working with members of the Board of Education, administrative team, faculty, staff, students and parents, and I hope to see you at future district and community events throughout the year.