Great Neck residents discuss desirable traits for new superintendent

Great Neck residents discuss desirable traits for new superintendent
Great Neck School District Superintendent Teresa Prendergast's resignation will go into effect in July. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)

Great Neck School District residents and stakeholders said the successor to outgoing Superintendent Teresa Prendergast should be transparent, collaborate with parents and promote athletics during a public meeting Monday evening.

Comments from the dozen or so individuals present online and via Zoom centered around prioritizing the students and continuing to have stellar statewide and national recognition, but some had other thoughts on what they would like to see Great Neck’s next superintendent accomplish. Having a superintendent who is present in all of the schools and events, one resident said, would be beneficial to students, staffers and parents.

“I’d like to see someone who is a part of our community, sees the schools, goes to the events and has everyone really know who they are,” the resident said.

While focusing on academics should always be a priority, one woman said, support for athletic teams is something she thinks has been lacking in the district.

“It’s so embarrassing for our kids to go to other schools and see the facilities or see the pride that exists in every other district that’s exactly like ours,” she said. “Our district just doesn’t care about athletics at all.”

Another resident said promoting athletics more is a “great opportunity to bring students and the community together.” Having a superintendent with a vision on how to improve the Great Neck School District, she said, would instill trust in the parents who foot a sizable amount of the bill.

 “We have an incredibly wonderful, diverse, beautiful district with a lot of needs,” a resident said. “Understanding all those nuances and figuring out how to bring it together is a monumental task, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who can.”

The public meeting Monday was moderated by District Wise Search Consultants, who were hired to help Great Neck find a replacement for Prendergast after she announced she would be stepping down from her post earlier this year. Prendergast’s leave is set to go into effect in July.

District Wise’s national search, has included constituent meetings composed of community stakeholders, staff and students. District Wise officials said they have used advertisements, cloud-based application processes and recruiting candidates to help conduct the search.

The anticipated timeline the company outlined in February aims to have the board interview candidates beginning in May, with a successor ultimately appointed in June.

An educator since 1987, Prendergast served as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Garden City Public Schools District.

Before working in Garden City, Prendergast served at the Lynbrook Public Schools – first as principal of the Lynbrook South Middle School from 2000 to 2004 and then as assistant superintendent for curriculum and personnel from 2004 to 2006.

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