GN School District to celebrate life of Superintendent Shine

GN School District to celebrate life of Superintendent Shine
Former Great Neck Superintendent Dr. William A. Shine died in January at 93. (Photo courtesy of Susan Shine)

The Great Neck School District has scheduled an event to celebrate the life of the late Superintendent William A. Shine in June.

District officials said the occasion will take place in the auditorium of his namesake building, South High School, on Thursday, June 2, at 4 p.m. The event will feature a video tribute, speakers and student music performances. The district is hosting the event in partnership with Shine’s wife, Susan.

Shine, who was hailed as a “visionary” leader by current-day district officials, died in January at 93. He served as superintendent from 1982 until he retired from the post in 2004, giving him the second-longest tenure as superintendent in the district’s history, trailing only John L. Miller’s 28 years.

Shine was born on April 22, 1928, in White Plains and attended Iona College for his undergraduate education, later receiving a Doctor of Education from Rutgers University in New Jersey. 

His tenure in public education began at the Tabernacle school district in New Jersey in 1954. Shine then went on to serve as superintendent of the Medford school district and Cherry Hill school district, both in New Jersey, before heading to Nassau County.

In 1982, 60 years after Elise Gignoux was named as Great Neck’s first superintendent, Shine was named to the job.

In 2006, Shine’s legacy was cemented in the district when South High was officially named William A. Shine Great Neck South High School.

Following his tenure in Great Neck, Shine spent six years working in the Manhasset school district, including a few months as interim superintendent.

Former Great Neck Board of Education President and current Trustee Barbara Berkowitz said in a statement to Blank Slate Media that Shine “was the true definition of an educational leader” and that it was an honor knowing him for more than 35 years.

“It is fitting that William A. Shine Great Neck South High School, an institute of learning, was named for Dr. Shine with the hope that all that saw his name permanently etched on its signs would emulate his continued love of learning,” Berkowitz said.

“Dr. Shine’s legacy is inextricably intertwined with our schools and Great Neck,” said Board of Ed President Rebecca Sassouni. “He was a visionary who understood education from every vantage point: He understood the vitality of the mission of public education to the students, the educators, to the entire community and also built positive relationships with local private schools.”

“Dr. Shine admirably served this wonderful community for almost 23 years as the superintendent of the Great Neck Public Schools,” Superintendent Teresa Prendergast said. “He was a friend and a mentor to us all and his legacy will live on through the stories of his life and the advice and words of encouragement he provided to others.”

The public is invited to attend the event and should RSVP to the district using an online form: Officials said the event will also be live streamed and recorded in case individuals are not able to attend in-person.

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