The Great Neck Board of Education approved the appointments of Luciana Bradley and Kathleen Murray to be the principals of Saddle Rock Elementary School and Parkville Elementary School, respectively, on Monday night, with major support from parents in the district.
The move drew a standing ovation and applause from teachers, colleagues and family at the meeting. The board then allowed for a brief recess, where audience members exchanged hugs and congratulations with the new appointees.
Bradley and Murray weren’t immediately available for comment on Wednesday, but parent leaders described the duo as inspirational leaders who care about the students like their own children.
“I’m very excited for both of them and for both of the schools that they will be administering,” Rebecca Sassouni, a school board trustee, said on Wednesday. “They have a lot of support in each building. They have already proven track records in the district. They’re both super humble, super eager, and I’m sure they will both be very successful.”
Bradley is a familiar face at Saddle Rock Elementary School, having served as its assistant principal for about 13 years. Before that she was an elementary school teacher in the Half Hollow Hills School District in Dix Hills.
Bradley is replacing Michael Mensch, who had been hired as interim principal for the 2017-18 school year. Principal Eric Nezowitz, who had been at Saddle Rock since 2007, accepted a position as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Plainedge School District last year.
Lisa Jonisch, one of the current Saddle Rock PTA presidents, said Bradley has shown that she is not only warm and friendly, but a leader who has helped retain the quality of Saddle Rock Elementary School.
“As soon as Luci had the opportunity, she stepped up to the plate and showed everybody what an amazing leader she is,” Jonisch said.
Melissa Zargari, the executive vice president of the Saddle Rock PTA and a member of the principal selection committee, said the panel had been looking for someone who could “maintain the overall sense of community and love in the school.”
And Bradley, who Zargari said has been “everywhere” in the school, knows the students by name and helped maintain Saddle Rock’s unique quality, fit the bill.
“She’s been amazing to work with,” Zargari said. “She’s probably one of the most caring people that I know and any decision she makes, she takes into account every person who’s affected.”
Murray has been the assistant principal at John F. Kennedy Elementary School for four years. Before that she worked in Munsey Park Elementary School as a special education and general education teacher, as well as the assistant principal.
Murray is replacing Debbie Shalom, who has been at Parkville Elementary School for 19 years first as a director in 1999 and then a principal starting in 2002.
UPTC President Michelle Ahdoot, whose children went to John F. Kennedy Elementary School, described Murray as someone who made children really “feel at home” and was “just everywhere,” always with a smile.
And while she considered Murray’s move to Parkville Elementary School somewhat “bittersweet news,” she and other parents at the school said they were “extremely happy” for her and that she was – and will continue to be — an “unbelievable and incredible asset.”
“She’s really, really amazing,” Ahdoot said, “in terms of everything.”