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Lynbrook student recognized for her positive impact

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Cate Jennings, an eighth grader from Lynbrook North Middle School in the Lynbrook Public Schools, was recently presented with the Cynthia Marks Student Legacy Award from the Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey. The organization selects one student from the elementary, middle and high school level who has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills to make their school No Place for Hate. As the award recipient, she received a plaque of recognition and a check for $500 for her hard work and dedication.

Jennings was nominated by school social worker Sandra Gettenberg for going above and beyond to make the North Middle School community a better place. Since the sixth grade, Jennings has been an active and valuable member of the school community. She has held both the vice-president and president positions in student government and has demonstrated her true leadership abilities serving as a voice for all students.

In addition, Jennings is an active member of Lynbrook North Middle School’s after school club, Equity for All and serves on the school’s diversity committee. As an advocate for students of color, she created a presentation for Black History Month which was shared with the school community and engaged with students and staff around the topics that were presented.

The Lynbrook Public Schools congratulates her on this outstanding achievement.

Recognitions abound at Lynbrook BOE meeting

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The Lynbrook Board of Education met for its regular meeting on June 9 in the Lynbrook High School auditorium. Many students and staff members were celebrated to mark the final Board of Education meeting of the 2020-21 school year.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Melissa Burak announced that four elementary students were recognized as winners for their grade level in the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. Winners included Marion Street second grader Allison Wong and third grader Ethan Spells, along with Waverly Park fourth grader Nathaniel Kim and fifth grader Arianna Lanzello.

Dr. Burak also recognized several Lynbrook High School student-athletes. Three members of the Lynbrook High School girls swim team received Academic All-American Honors: Erin Quinlan, Emily Bergin and Mackensi Deninno. In addition, Lynbrook High School senior Luigi Prosperi, a member of the school’s varsity boys soccer team, was commended for making it to the New York State All-State boys soccer team for this season. He is one of only seven soccer players to earn this distinction in Nassau County and is the first Lynbrook High School male soccer player to earn this distinction since its inception.

Dr. Burak also presented the district’s You Go the Distance Award to three exceptional staff members who have done great things this school year. Recipients included Peter Maisch and Margaret Marchell from Waverly Park Elementary School and Robert Millione from Lynbrook High School. Dr. Burak also acknowledged the entire district staff for their hard work and support during the pandemic.

“A little over a year ago when the pandemic started, we didn’t know what was on the horizon and everyone worked together through the rough patches in the beginning…I have to say that everyone has really gone above and beyond to make this a good school year for our kids in the best possible way,” she said.

Following the award presentation, Board President William Belmont recognized nine tenure recipients. This included Meghan Ceglie, Meredith Dic, Diana Intrabartola, Kelly Napolitano, Justin Randazzo, Kathleen Scorcia, Shannon Ticas, Dr. Benedict Tieniber and Michelle Vigada Towers. Each were congratulated on this milestone in their careers. In addition, Mr. Belmont warmly welcomed new staff members into the district. This included Caroline Abbate, Jenna Crimmins, Catherine O’Brien, Patricia Schwetz and James Wolf. Dr. Burak followed by recognizing West End Elementary School’s new principal Leah Murray who was officially appointed during the district’s budget night.

The board also honored Dr. Burak for being selected by Nassau BOCES as a recipient of the Nassau Association of School of Technologists Award. The prestigious award recognizes individuals for their innovation, leadership and support of technology initiatives in their school district. She will be honored at a virtual awards ceremony on June 17. In addition, Dr. Burak was recognized as a community hero by Assemblywoman Judy Griffin for being a role model.

Closing out the recognitions, Mr. Belmont and the board presented a gift to board secretary Robert Paskoff as a sign of appreciation for his outstanding service to Lynbrook and the BOE for the past 15 years. They thanked him for his years of dedication to the school district and wished him the best of luck.

The board then transitioned to a hearing where Dr. Paul Lynch, assistant superintendent for finance, operations and information systems, presented the district safety plan for the community. He shared that the district’s health and safety committee works together each year to formulate policies and procedures. This includes establishing building-level plans, evaluating training, drills and school security protocols, and more. Dr. Lynch shared the proposed compliance timeline and noted that the official draft of the health and safety plan will be on the district website, lynbrookschools.org, this summer for the community to review and make comments.

The regular board meeting resumed with Dr. Burak’s superintendent’s report. She shared that members of the Reopening Task Force Phase 5 recently began meeting. The Task Force is looking at the continuously changing guidelines from New York State and form a consensus through the information presented right now. The goal is to prepare students and families for what school will look like in September. One of the Task Force co-chairs, Dr. Gerard Beleckas, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, reported on agreed upon considerations by the Task Force which are subject to external mandates. This includes having full-time, in-person learning return. He also shared the areas that have warranted more discussions such as how to instruct quarantined students and how arrival and dismissal will look. All of the Task Force recommendations are subject to change based on state mandates. With all the mandates in the recent news regarding masks, the board strongly encouraged the community to reach out to local representatives and the governor.

On a positive note, Dr. Burak spoke about the additional funding for schools from the state and federal government. This is to assist with the smooth return to schools, any learning loss and mental health support. Funding comes in the form of three different packages – ESSER-GEER Funding Plan, APR-ESSER Funding Plan and State Foundation Aid Funding Plan. The district’s plans for each can be found under the finance and budget tab at www.lynbrookschools.org.

In regard to state aid is a Universal Pre-K Program. The district was allotted a little more than $300,000 to open a UPK program for the fall of 2021-2022. Due to space restrictions in the school buildings, the district will be looking for a third party vendor to provide that service. Depending on the vendor, a little more than 60 slots will be available for any incoming Pre-K students. The district will most likely be conducting a lottery for spaces to be filled in the program.

Dr. Lynch concluded the meeting by providing a capital projects update. The Marion Street elevator project is about to begin and the Atlantic Avenue boiler project is about to get underway. He also shared an update on the Lynbrook High School addition. The outside of the building is almost complete and furniture and equipment is already starting to arrive.

West End Welcomes New Principal

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The Lynbrook Public Schools recently appointed Leah Murray as the new principal of West End Elementary School, starting July 1. Ms. Murray will take on the new building administrator role previously held by Dr. Cindy Lee who is retiring at the end of the month.

Ms. Murray enters the district with more than 14 years of experience as an educator and leader. Since 2017, she has served as the assistant principal of PS 169 Bay Terrace Elementary School in Bayside, where she showcased her commitment to students and her school community as a whole. Among her many responsibilities, Ms. Murray crafted and implemented school goals, led various professional development workshops, designed a school-wide digital curriculum tool to support curriculum programs and helped implement social emotional learning tools in the classroom. Prior to her role as an assistant principal, Ms. Murray served as a general education teacher and also a special education teacher where she continuously demonstrated her passion for student engagement and success.

She attended St. Bonaventure University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary and Special Education and her Master of Education degree in Literacy. Ms. Murray furthered her passion for education by receiving New York State certification in School Building Leader from CUNY Queens College. She also holds New York State Certification in Literacy (Birth to Grade 6) and in Childhood Education and Children with Disabilities (Grades 1-6).

“I feel so proud to be joining the West End Family and the Lynbrook Community,” said Ms. Murray. “I am looking forward to making meaningful relationships with all the students, staff and families! I can’t wait for all the learning and the fun we will have next year and the years to come.”

Lynbrook North Middle School Earns No Place for Hate Distinction

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The global pandemic has led to isolation, heartbreak and loss for many, but for the Lynbrook North Middle School community, it also led to transformation, innovation and teamwork. Due to the positive efforts of students and staff this year, Lynbrook North Middle School was once again recognized by the Anti-Defamation League as a No Place for Hate School.

No Place for Hate is a self-directed program intended to help schools create a more equitable and inclusive climate where all students can thrive. To earn the No Place for Hate designation, a school must demonstrate a positive, safe and inclusive learning environment for students by designing and implementing at least three school-wide anti-bias or bullying prevention activities approved by the ADL.

Lynbrook North Middle School students and staff showcased this throughout the school year by creating and engaging in memorable activities that prompted important conversations about bias, bullying, cyberbullying, discrimination, name-calling, prejudice and stereotypes. They participated in special weeks and days such as Start With Hello Week, which fostered social inclusivity and mental health awareness; Unity Day, where students spoke about crucial subjects pertaining to social justice and inclusivity; and Diversity Rocks, a special project where students painted rocks and expressed themselves creatively after engaging in discussions about identity and the concept of stereotyping.

“We want to help students understand that everyone has a role to play in combating bias and bullying as a means to stop the escalation of hate,” said Lynbrook North Middle School Social Worker Sandra Gettenberg.

Staff members will continue to foster conversations about these important issues while finding new ways to continue to build a kind and inclusive school environment for all.

Superintendent's Weekly Bulletin – June 11, 2021

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