Kenneth Bossert appointed as Great Neck school superintendent

Kenneth Bossert appointed as Great Neck school superintendent
Great Neck North High School. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The Great Neck Board of Education on Wednesday appointed Kenneth Bossert as the new superintendent of schools. He will begin his five-year term on Aug. 1.

Bossert has an expansive career in school administration. In taking the post as the Great Neck superintendent, he leaves behind his seven-year role as superintendent of the Elwood School District in Suffolk County.

Previously Bossert was the superintendent of schools at the Port Jefferson School District for five years, assistant superintendent at the Three Village Central School District for three years and principal at Eastport South Manor Elementary School.

Bossert started his educational career in 1995 as a Middle Country School District teacher.

He said he was not seeking out a new job venture when he was contacted by District Wise, the search consultant group used by the Great Neck School District to recruit a new superintendent.

“Knowing the standing of this institution and the educational community, I could not pass up the opportunity to become part of this team,” Bossert said.

He said Great Neck is a respected educational institution and a leader in education throughout the state and nation. He said it is an honor to not only lead the district but also to simply be a part of it and collaborate with the administration.

He said an expression he uses frequently is that “the race for excellence has no finish line,” and that is what he’ll apply to his role at the Great Neck Public Schools.

Board of Education President Rebecca Sassouni said that the board understood appointing a new superintendent would be the most significant decision they made and the legacy they leave upon the district. She said the board spent the last couple of months working to make the best decision possible, putting in hours of work.

Sassouni said the decision was made in collaboration among board members, utilizing districtwide focus groups to garner community input. She said appointing Bossert to the position was unanimous across the board of education.

“I’m confident that you will help to maintain and amplify those standards for the parent community, for the student community, for our professionals, our entire staff and for the benefit of all,” Sassouni said.

Board Trustee Donna Peirez said she was doubtful that the board would appoint a superintendent before the end of the school year. She said she is pleased that Bossert is filling the position.

“I have the utmost faith that he will be a wonderful leader for the students, the staff and the community of Great Neck,” Peirez said.

Bossert said he is humbled by the remarks from the board and is thankful for the opportunity.

His five-year term will end July 31, 2028.

Bossert’s appointment comes in the wake of former Superintendent Teresa Prendergast’s unexpected death announced by the district on Sunday. Trustee Barbara Berkowitz said it does not diminish the board’s enthusiasm and optimism in the appointment of Bossert.

Prendergast, 60, died from a ruptured brain aneurysm on June 10.

Prendergast had been the district’s superintendent for the past eight years. She was planning to retire from her position on July 21 to become principal of Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead starting in August.

Prendergast’s funeral will be held at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday at Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church at 65 Wright Ave. in Malverne.

Visitations will be held at Flinch & Bruns Funeral Home at 34 Hempstead Ave. in Lynbrook on Thursday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m., as well as on Friday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.

The board held a minute of silence at the beginning of its meeting to remember Prendergast.

“Two weeks ago, on May 31, our board recognized Dr. Teresa Prendergast for her eight years of caring and attentive service to our entire school community and every one of its facets and for her graciousness, her goodwill, her cheer,” Sassouni said. “Just a week ago she suffered a grave medical incident. And as we sit here this evening with her empty seat by my side, I am reminded, as I am sure we all are, of the fragility of life.”

Sassouni quoted Maya Angelou, relating it to Prendergast’s ability to make everyone feel seen, heard and recognized: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“Her absence is deeply felt,” Sassouni said.

Wednesday’s meeting was also the last Great Neck Board of Education meeting for the school year. This was the last meeting for two trustees – Berkowitz and Jeffrey Shi – who will be ending their tenure on the board.

“It has been my honor to have been involved in our schools in a leadership capacity since 1986 and to have served on the Board of Education as a trustee, vice president and president for the past 31 years,” Berkowitz said. “But, all good things must come to an end and the time has come to step down now. I remain committed to both the school and Great Neck community that I have loved since moving her in 1978, and I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for us all.”

Berkowitz said she too will be honored as the graduating class of 2023 at next week’s high school graduations.

Shi served 6 years on the board, after being elected in 2017. He did not run for re-election in May.

Shi called his time on the board as one of the most important achievements in his life.

“But I got the strength from the community, and I got the strength from the administrators, the teacher, but most importantly [the students],” Shi said.

Berkowitz and Shi both received standing ovations. They were presented with flowers and a plaque to honor their service on the Board of Education.

Sassouni said there is nothing that could truly honor the time and service Berkowitz has given to the school district.

The Great Neck Board of Education will hold its next organizational meeting at 7:30 p.m. on July 6 at the Phipps Administration Building.

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