Great Neck BoE approves three administrators for 2023–24

Great Neck BoE approves three administrators for 2023–24
Brendan Nelson was appointed Great Neck North Middle School Assistant Principal. (Courtesy Great Neck Schools)

Over the summer, the Great Neck Board of Education approved three administrative appointments for the upcoming 2023–24 school year. At the July 6 board meeting, Diana Haanraadts was made the next assistant superintendent for Elementary Education, Jennifer Andersen was named the director of Community Education and Brendan Nelson stepped into his roll of North Middle School Assistant Principal.

Haanraadts was appointed following the retirement of Kelly Newman, effective Sept. 1, and Andersen was appointed after the retirement of Samantha Tarantola, effective Aug. 1. At the Aug. 17 meeting, Nelson was appointed as assistant principal at North Middle School, effective Aug. 31.

Haanraadts comes to the Great Neck Public Schools from the Massapequa School District, where she has served as an administrator for the past 18 years. She first joined Massapequa as an elementary principal in 2005, and was promoted to assistant to the superintendent in 2011.

In her current role as assistant to the superintendent, Haanraadts will collaborate “with principals and curricular department supervisors across six elementary schools to create dynamic, engaging, and meaningful learning environments,” the district said.

“She developed orientation programs and workshops to support new faculty members, as well as mentorship and training programs for all instructional staff in support of district initiatives and highly effective teaching techniques. Haanraadts also provided information and support for families through parent workshops,” the district said.

“I am extremely eager to start my next chapter in the Great Neck Public Schools,” said Haanraadts. “Through all of the people I have met in this process, I know what a special place Great Neck is and I am honored and humbled to join this amazing team of Board of Education members, staff, families and community.”

Prior to working in Massapequa, Haanraadts was an elementary assistant principal in Valley Stream District 30 from 2001 to 2005, and an elementary classroom teacher in the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District from 1993 to 2001.

Haanraadts has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Education from Dartmouth College, a Master of Arts in Teaching of Writing from Hofstra University, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in School Leadership from Hofstra University. She holds New York State Certifications for School District Administration, as well as Nursery, Kindergarten, and Elementary Education.

Andersen has spent her 27-year spanning teaching and administrative career at North Middle School. Andersen has moved from her position as North Middle assistant principal to become the director of Community Education. Community Ed is a districtwide program located at the Cumberland Center that offers a variety of opportunities for educational enrichment, intellectual engagement, and social connection.

Andersen served as an assistant principal at North Middle since 2015. “Her administrative responsibilities included developing the school’s master schedule, assisting with department budgets, coordinating special programs, supervising staff, and supporting the entire North Middle community,” the district said. “These skills, along with her proven ability to build relationships among staff, students, and the community, provide a strong foundation for her new role.”

“It seems surreal to be leaving my home at North Middle School after 27 years, and I will miss the parents, teachers, and most of all the students so very much. I am, however, thankful for the opportunity to apply the skills I have honed as an administrator at NMS as the new director of Community Education at Cumberland,” said Andersen.

Prior to becoming an assistant principal, Andersen taught English at North Middle from 1996 to 2015. For the latter eight years of her time as a classroom teacher, she also served as the school’s dean of students.

Andersen obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from SUNY Binghamton and a Master of Arts in Teaching English from SUNY Stony Brook. She holds New York State Certifications for School District Leader, School Building Leader, and Secondary English Education.

Nelson has filled a vacancy at North Middle left by Andersen’s administrative transition from North Middle to Community Ed. He comes to Great Neck from the North Shore Central School District, where he served as the middle school assistant principal since 2018.

“However, members of the GNPS community may recognize Nelson from his three years as a school counselor at North Middle School from 2015 to 18,” the press release states.

“I am so excited to be coming back home to North Middle. I’m grateful to Dr. Bossert, Dr. Lando, and our Board of Education for putting their faith in me to bring my years of experience back to the north side of town,” says Nelson. “I look forward to working hard alongside Dr. Cozine, Mrs. Gunning, and all of our truly wonderful staff to provide a great student experience for all of our students.”

Nelson’s career in education spans 21 years as a teacher, counselor, and administrator. He started as a high school social studies teacher in the Sewanhaka in 2002 through 2003 and Rye Neck from 2005 to 2007 school districts before becoming a school counselor. He served as a middle school counselor for 11 years — including eight years in the Rye Neck school district and three years at Great Neck North Middle School — before becoming a middle school assistant principal.

Nelson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master of Arts in School Counseling from Manhattan College, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from American College of Education. He holds New York State Certifications for School Building Leader, School Counselor, and Secondary Social Studies Education.

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