Huntington Patch spoke with Dr. David Bennardo, superintendent for South Huntington schools, about what parents and students can expect in the district when the new schoolyear begins. Bennardo said he recognizes the trust that the Board of Education and community has placed in him and remains committed to accentuating the positive culture of the South Huntington schools.
DB: This is certainly an exciting time for the South Huntington schools as the district prepares to welcome 6,048 students through its doors. The new superintendent will be settling in and parents, students and staff can expect to see him at community events and activities. Dr. Bennardo recognizes the trust that the Board of Education and community has placed in him and remains committed to accentuating the positive culture of the South Huntington Schools.
While the district's commitment to excellence remains consistent, there are many local and state changes that characterize the new year.
Countrywood veteran Barbara Kenney will assume the leadership of that fine school after 12 years as an assistant principal and 8 years as a teacher. Ms. Kenney will be joined by Kellie Njenga, who is a South Huntington alumni and veteran Massachusetts school administrator. We look forward to following the work of this dynamic team as they enhance the wonderful culture of the Countrywood School. There is a new face at the helm of Silas Wood as well, as beloved Birchwood assistant principal and teacher Steve Toto assumes the principalship of the 6th grade center. We have no doubt that Mr. Toto's dynamic personality and positive energy will have a special impact upon the school. Mr. Ciccarelli also welcomes a new addition to his leadership team as the dynamic Annie Michaelian leaves the classroom after nine successful years. Mr. Ciccarelli and Ms. Michaelian promise to be a powerful duo that will bring great things to the culture of the Birchwood School.
Our students will also be impacted by the further development of New York State's Common Core initiative, which pushes for deeper levels of understanding and college readiness in all curriculum areas. The members of our learning family will see greater use of non-fiction and embedded text that requires readers to evaluate and synthesize factual information. Our teachers and administrators stand ready to welcome the Common Core challenge and look forward to fostering strong analytical skills in our schools.
The children of our schools will continue to see the increased use of technology as a learning tool. Through the generosity of the South Huntington Education Foundation and successful grant application, we have been able to add additional SMART Boards and iPads to our district classrooms. These state-of-the-art devices will allow for interactive learning experiences that stress 21st Century problem-solving skills. Our students will also be exposed to more computer-based testing, which will prepare them for the future Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Exams.
While public education in New York State is riddled with financial challenges and new initiatives, we remain genuinely optimistic about the months ahead. Each new school year offers fresh hope and excitement to parents, students, and teachers alike. The unique chemistry of 2012-2013 will quickly take shape as the members of our scholastic family embrace countless opportunities to come.
Huntington Patch will publish an interview with Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky on Tuesday.