By Maria Perez
After nine years of serving as the superintendent for the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park school district, Robert Katulak attended his final public school board meeting at the Manor Oaks School on Monday.
Katulak, who has spent 41 years in public education, received a standing ovation from the school board and all parents who attended. He announced his retirement in September.
Katulak said he is proud of all the achievements the school district has accomplished during his nine years as superintendent.
“Nine years ago, we went on a collaborative journey to turn our school district from good to great, and we accomplished just that,” Katulak said.
During his time as superintendent, Katulak brought more technology to the district by making sure each classroom had interactive white boards and laying groundwork to give each student Apple iPad tablets.
He also finalized current labor contracts with all its employees, including three groups that had been working under expired contracts for at least three years.
Katulak will be replaced by Jennifer Morrison, who is currently the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the Eastport-South Manor Central School District in Manorville, covering kindergarten through 12th grade.
She will be working under a three-year contract.
Morrison taught elementary school for 10 years, split between the New York City schools in Jamaica, Queens, and the Oyster Bay-East Norwich school district.
During his final remarks before the board meeting began, Katulak left the board and parents with a quote from Maya Angelou that he believed best described his time as superintendent.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, and forget what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel. I hope that I made you all feel good,” Katulak said.
Also on Monday, the board heard presentations by students from the district’s Odyssey program for advanced students.
Danielle Mattina, the new Odyssey teacher for the district, said she is proud to be taking over the responsibilities of Sheila Bet, the founder of the program who retired last year after running the program for 19 years.
“It’s been a complete honor and joy to work with our very talented students in our school district this year,” Mattina said.
During her 15 years as an educator, Mattina never thought it was possible to learn so much as she has now that she’s part of the program, she said.
“The Odyssey’s students drive and passion for learning has taught me so much,” she said. “Their creativity and innovative skills have been admirable.”
Presentations were made by fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students on topics such as literacy, mythology and the Constitution.
Fifth-grader Angelina Ellias from the Hillside Grade School presented her slideshow on “The Odyssey,” Homer’s epic poem.
Ellias said that during her time in the program, she and her classmates learned skills where they would have to think a little differently to accomplish a task.
“We learn simple skills and other skills where we have to think outside the box,” Ellias said.