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Back to School: ‘They Hit the Ground Running’

Noting that this was the 196th anniversary of the opening of a Great Neck public school, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan told how the first school, the Wooley’s Brook School, opened in 1814. On Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010, the Great Neck Public Schools opened with 6,383 students. And with this year’s “unusual calendar” (working around early religious holidays), Dr. Dolan reported that the schools, as always, enjoyed smooth openings, with students quickly adjusting and moving into the educational mode.

Dr. Dolan presented his opening day report at the Sept. 20 board of education public action meetings.

Dr. Dolan spent part of the first day at the Parkville School, greeting kindergarten students and first-time pre-K students. He said it was “amazing” to see the school district’s youngest students so interested and so happy so quickly, how “naturally” they become students.

Along with Kelly Newman, the district’s new assistant superintendent, elementary, and Stephen Lando, the district’s new assistant superintendent, secondary, Dr. Dolan toured the school buildings, observing many classes, and elated with the fact that the students in each school were so “engaged in learning … right from the start.”

Dr. Nolan added that by the second or third day, students were involved in a “high level of instruction.” He said that he believes that “being a student is as natural as play or rest.” Dr. Dolan stated: “We are all students, all the time.”

Even though staff, and especially maintenance, custodial and security staff, always work extremely hard, all through the summer, to ensure a well-planned opening day, this year it was noted that everyone had an extremely hard job putting back the pieces after the devastating June 24 micro-burst. “We would not have opened if not for the efforts of staff after June 24,” Dr. Dolan said.

And Dr. Dolan noted the further efforts of staff following the unanticipated, damaging storm on Thursday, Sept. 16. Due to the power outages following the storm, Great Neck North High School was closed on Friday, Sept. 17, and the North Middle School Open House scheduled for Thursday evening, Sept. 17 was canceled (and is rescheduled for Oct. 19). And this, Dr. Dolan said, follows the long postponement of the North Middle School graduation after that school was damaged during the June 24 storm.

In addition to the big “thank you” to those who restored the schools, Dr. Dolan again welcomed Ms. Newman and Dr. Lando, thanking them for their work and for their support. Dr. Dolan also thanked Dennis Ryan, the outgoing assistant superintendent for special education and pupil services, for all he has done. He said that Dr. Ryan will remain with the school district through mid-October and that the district is “close” to appointing an interim assistant superintendent. A permanent placement will come later on.

“Welcome back to school,” Dr. Dolan stated.

Following Dr. Dolan’s report, board of education president Barbara Berkowitz, in turn, thanked Dr. Dolan, who she said “did so much.” Ms. Berkowitz explained that “there is no end of the school year for the superintendent,” as he works all summer too. “Dr. Dolan hit the ground running … and he made sure everyone else did as well,” Ms. Berkowitz reported.

The next public action meeting for the Board of Education is Monday evening, Oct. 18, 8:30 p.m., at Great Neck North High School, 35 Polo Road.