New Year Filled With Hope, Vision & Excitement


By Dr. Teresa Prendergast
Great Neck Public Schools

Dr. Teresa Prendergast, superintendent of schools, visited with Lakeville School students on Aug. 31, the opening day of school. (Photos by Jessica K. Vega)

On the first day of school, a major milestone in the life of any young person, I was delighted to warmly welcome so many of our students, their families and our staff. The start of a school year is certainly filled with new beginnings: Lessons are learned, friendships are made and ideas are formed. The excitement of a new year has begun and we are enjoying the positive energy. I know that we are about to begin a wonderful year filled with hope, vision and excitement.

Welcoming New Administrators

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. Daniel Holtzman is now the principal of North High School, having earned the position upon the retirement of Bernard Kaplan. Mr. Holtzman comes to us after having served as the principal of Shoreham-Wading River High School. Christopher Gitz is the new principal of South High School, replacing Susan Elliot, who retired in July. Dr. Gitz was previously the principal of Lindenhurst High School. Emily Zucal, who previously served as the assistant principal of Lakeville School, has been appointed as principal of Lakeville, succeeding Phyllis Feldman, who also retired in July. Finally, Neepa Redito was appointed as the new assistant principal of Lakeville, having previously served as the elementary math and science coordinator for the Herricks School District. 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. Later this fall, I will introduce our newly appointed administrators to you through our televised Focus on Education programs via the district website and over our educational television stations, Cablevision Optimum Channel 75 and Verizon FIOS Channel 32.

Physical Plant Improvements

Our greatest effort this summer has been enacting improvements to our physical plant utilizing funds from our annual budget and the Capital Projects Proposition approved by the community in May 2016. These projects will enhance our facilities and many of them, including new walkways and roadways, fence replacements, resurfacing of tennis courts, auditorium seating and a boiler replacement, were completed prior to the opening of school. (View a list of summer projects and photos at

One of the more challenging projects this summer included the repair and replacement of exterior masonry work, along with a window replacement project, at North Middle 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 posted on our district website.

Redesigned District Website

Speaking of websites, we look forward to unveiling a completely redesigned district website later in the school year. Many thanks are extended to Marc Epstein, district director of technology, and members of the district technology staff and various school webmasters for their efforts in making this goal a reality. In the meantime, be sure to follow us on Facebook for the latest district news and upcoming events.

Two Centuries of Excellence

Looking back at more than 200 years of excellence, one might wonder what it is that makes the Great Neck Public Schools (GNPS) so unique. What is it that has given the GNPS its rich tradition of excellence? We believe that our students and our schools, with
unfailing support from our parents and the greater community, are the heart and soul of this district. We challenge our students academically, support them socially and provide encouragement and guidance to help them grow into the amazing citizens we know they can be. We thank the community for the recent passage of the May 2017 School Budget and Bond Referendum, both of which will help to maintain the important structural and educational workings of the school district for our next generation of young learners.

The School Year Ahead

As I enter my third year as superintendent of this exceptional school district, I can truly state that I have never been more excited about the possibilities for a school year, nor more honored to serve as your superintendent of schools. We are fortunate to live and/or work in a community where those who lived here before us created a rich and magical learning experience for students. However, while GNPS has a long and proud tradition of educational excellence, we will not rest on our laurels. Our district will continue to transform education so that our graduates will be well-prepared to excel in a rapidly changing global society.

The Board of Education joins me in extending our best wishes to the school and larger community for a successful and rewarding year filled with many excellent opportunities. Working together, we will continue to inspire an appreciation of learning challenges and adventures.

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