Great Neck school board recognized by students, staff

Great Neck school board recognized by students, staff
The Great Neck Board of Education was recognized for their service to the school district community. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck School District)

The Great Neck School District’s Board of Education was recognized for its dedicated work to serve the community and lauded by students and other staff members.

The New York State School Boards Association’s School Board Recognition Week ran from Oct. 17-21. The association encourages members of a school district to find ways to show their appreciation for the public officials who take time out of their schedules to prioritize education for students throughout their communities.

North Middle School principal Gerald Cozine and South Middle School principal Gina Cartolano praised the board consisting of President Rebecca Sassouni and Trustees Donna Peirez, Jeffrey Shi, Barbara Berkowitz and Grant Toch for their commitment to Great Neck’s schools and all community stakeholders.

“Indeed life is for service and the five of you have clearly shown our community your commitment to this belief,” Cartolano said. “And, most of all, it is your commitment to our students and their learning that sets Great Neck apart from other communities.”

The two introduced a video highlighting Great Neck’s middle school students praising their in-person experience and the work the board of education has done to ease everyone back into the classroom following the tumultuous time of the coronavirus pandemic. Participating in various clubs, and taking unique and enriching classes, they said, is all made possible by the board members’ dedicated work.

The board members expressed their gratitude for the students’ appreciation of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into their school experiences.

“For all the time that we spend, t’s very clear watching that video and interacting with the students what it’s all for and it’s a privilege to be able to do it for everybody,” Toch said.

“This is why we do what we do,” Berkowitz, who has served the longest on the board, said. “Sometimes we get a little frustrated and we have to always be reminded about why we do what we do. It’s for the students in this district, it’s for the families in this district and for the staff of this district.”

“I would just like to thank the students and the principals and teachers from North and South Middle School,” Peirez said. “You made our hearts sing.”

“We are coming from this great community that has been supportive of our students, our teachers and they will continue to do so and this is an appreciation of their inputs,” Shi said.

Sassouni said the affirmative action language spoken by the students in the video saying “I get to” or “I love” rather than saying “I have to” is something she noticed and was pleased to see.

“I thought that was fantastic that they feel they have a choice that they’re embracing what they do and that Great Neck provides that,” she said.

Superintendent Teresa Prendergast said the board’s hard work and community involvement led to Great Neck being ranked as the third-best public school district in the nation and the best district throughout New York for the second consecutive year.

“This recognition reflects the commitment of our school community to provide every student with the opportunities and the tools that they need to be successful,” Prendergast said.

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