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Teaching Kindness Along With ABC’s

One of the best perks of this job is to be invited to an elementary school event and it is especially heart-warming to visit Saddle Rock School where my two children attended many years ago. While the school building itself has had some renovations in the intervening years, it’s halls are still festooned with the children’s bright, splashy art work and its classrooms filled with eager, bubbly learners.


Kindergarten teacher Sabra Satten had invited the Great Neck Record to see and hear all the kindergarten children in action as they reached out to other grades to assist them in being Pet Pals, a program to donate items to the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter. She had explained that already the children had been bringing in items such as toys, treats, collars, leashes, food and gently used towels, but now, they would branch out to the other classrooms, telling the other children about their project and “persuading” them to bring in items too.

First, all the kindergarten children met together with their teachers and ran through all the points in their presentations...about what dogs need to be safe, to be healthy and grow and to feel loved. And then, with their teachers, they fanned out to visit all the other classrooms.

Satten said, “The kids are so excited about their project and doing something for the dogs at the shelter ... but they’ll also be learned to speak publicly and to share their excitement with others ... It’s all part of our philosophy that we can also teach kindness along with everything else.”

Two staff people from the Shelter, Genna Tudda and Scott Halleran, were in attendance as well and they expressed their thanks to the children for caring about the work of the shelter.


The students had also made colorful posters to enhance their oral presentations and their faces beamed as they shared their project with the other children and asked for their help. All the classes gave a warm welcome to the kindergarteners and promised to help. Satten says that indeed everyone did help and that cartons of supplies were given to the shelter.

The school adopted a motto, one that was voted on by the children: Smart Choices, Kind Voices and it is mounted on a wall in the school in bold colors.


Saddle Rock is also part of a nation-wide program, called Rachel’s Challenge. Satten added, “Although we don’t talk to the little ones about the Columbine tragedy, we did choose to take the challenge of this organization that was formed by the father of Rachel Joy Scott who was the first victim in the Columbine shootings. Her father began to speak about the need for a more compassionate society... He used Rachel’s writings and drawings in her diary to make the points. We believe that if children learn and experience compassion at an early age, it can make a big difference … It’s all about starting a chain kindness leads to another.”


If you look up in the hallways of Saddle Rock School, you will see paper chains. Each color represents a particular classroom ... and when children show kindness, another link is made in the chain. 


The chains stretch a long, long way and continue to grow.


The recent adoption the Common Core Learning Standards, a rigorous series of teacher and student assessment testing, and the potential sharing of confidential student information with third parties have resulted in a radical change in the educational landscape in New York State—one that many parents have been concerned about.

To address these growing concerns, the Great Neck School District’s United Parent Teacher Council recently hosted a question and answer session at South High School with New York State Regent Roger Tilles, a Great Neck resident who has been outspoken with both his support of content the Common Core and his disapproval in how the new set of learning standards have been implemented.

At a meeting last week, after almost four hours of back and forth between Clover Drive residents, the attorney representing builder Frank Lalazarian’s controversial Old Mill II project and members of the Village of Great Neck’s Planning Board, there was very little progress, no vote taken and far more questions than answers.

The subdivision plan, a project under discussion for the last five years and recently approved by the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals, calls for 11 houses to be built in the area behind the Old Mill Apartments, with sole access from Clover Drive. Complicating the builder’s efforts to gain approval to start building is the fact that one of the lots is within the boundaries of Great Neck Estates and will require that village’s approval also.  Additionally, Lalazarian’s project must gain the approval of several Nassau County agencies, including its department of public works, department of health and planning commission.


The Bears team before a recent game at the Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink with Coach Dan Marsella.

Great Neck’s Ayal Hod is the proud coach of Great Neck’s winning Top Gun sixth grade team in the Island Garden Fall League. Hod puts together the team every season, mixing local youngsters from Great Neck and children son Dillon’s AAU Jamaica Queens team. The league is very competitive and challenging and it teaches the children many valuable lessons: “how to be great teammates by sharing the ball, how to compete hard on every possession and what you put in is what you get out.”

Hod says that the main challenge is for every child to bring their individual talent to the team and collectively they have something special. an ex-player, he says that “basketball was very good to me, it helped pay my college education and it  paid my-bills for many years to come via several basketball commercials ... basketball also opened many doors for me and it helped me tremendously in my business career.”

Hod enjoys sharing his basketball journey background with his son and his friends and having them learn lessons too.


Park District Swim

Saturday, Dec. 7

Board of Education Meeting

Monday, Dec. 9

Peter Max Exhibit Presentation

Tuesday, December 10


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