North Shore Interim Superintendent & BOE President Welcome Faculty & Staff on Superintendent’s Conference Day
On August 31, 2021, Interim Superintendent Dr. Tom Dolan and Board of Education President Dave Ludmar visited each of the five North Shore Schools to welcome back the faculty and staff. After introducing themselves, they greeted the returning and new faculty and staff and spoke to them about last year and the upcoming new 2021-22 school year.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Dolan began by saying, “Good Morning and welcome back to the 2021-22 School Year! I am honored to greet you and to thank you all for coming back. I have not yet met most of you, so allow me to start by introducing myself: my name is Tom Dolan and I am thrilled to be the Interim Superintendent of the North Shore School. There is no hyperbole when I say that this is a place I have always wanted to work.” Dr. Dolan continued by saying, “Part of starting over, and maybe the most important part, is tossing away that which did not work, holding on tight to all that has been effective, and finding the balance between the new and the old, the explored and unexplored, the comfortable and the uncomfortable. That is where we have the greatest opportunity, and this ability to re-invent our practice each September.”
After showing a short video clip from the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart, Dr. Dolan concluded his speech by speaking about students. He said, “Kids! As easy as it might be to get caught up in all of the peripheral noise associated with education, we would all be well advised to remember the joy associated with working with kids, and the alchemy that can occur when we do. The student that sits before you is there for the first time, in most cases. They are a variable to your teaching, and they might change your perfect lesson…for the better…if you let them. KIDS! We have all heard statements like this is his or her only year in fifth or seventh or ninth grade, and that is true. We hope that students will be exposed to a given class only once. If that’s the case, then they are the true variable that might influence the effectiveness of a lesson, and WE can be the variable in increasing the probability for their success and happiness. What a noble aspiration and welcome challenge. This year is different for another reason though and that is related to the condition in which our students return to us… Like you, they have had a very difficult 18 months leading up to tomorrow. They return to school after some fits and starts, some stop and go events, some “yes’s” and “no’s”. They will be decompressing in some ways, and that’s why I hope we can all remember that they are kids in those first few days. Kids first, students second, recognizing the fragile state some of them might be in. We will get to the hard academic work soon enough, but our “kids” deserve some time to adapt to school as they formerly knew it. So do you! I hope each of you will monitor your own emotions as we embark on the next few challenging days…How we approach our ‘Kids’ will make all the difference in the world to them. I know that I look forward to welcoming our students any chance I get, and I hope to be in your buildings and even your classrooms frequently, starting tomorrow…Opening Day.” (Dr. Dolan’s full speech)
Dr. Dolan introduced Board of Education President Dave Ludmar to all in attendance at each school. President Ludmar said, “Last year, I spoke on opening day about embracing adversity and taking on the challenges posed by the pandemic. To try our best to view it as an opportunity for creativity and reinvention. Ummm... I never realized I was such a persuasive speaker, because: WOW! You really took it to heart! In all seriousness, I was talking with a friend from college the other day, who was just elected to serve on his school board up in Westchester, ruminating if this was the biggest challenge in public education in any of our lifetimes. He suggested the national turmoil over the draft for the Vietnam War might have been comparable, and while I probably disagree - the current crisis affects ALL children, K-12, not to mention every single person in our society and around the globe– even if he’s right, that was fifty years ago! There is almost nobody working in education, today, who’s had to navigate a crisis of this scale. We’re about to embark on a school year that is different from last year – but also remains more similar, in many ways, than any of us would have liked. I’ve heard it said we’re more weary than frightened… and there is so much frustration that people are still getting sick, that we’re still arguing about masks… it’s at least worth recognizing that we were one of only 6 of the 54 Nassau County school districts with daily in-person instruction K-8, a robust hybrid program at the HS, and an at-home offering for students who could not come to our buildings. That’s no small feat, and one many other places couldn’t accomplish.”
President Ludmar continued, “There probably are people out there who think that what we do is simple. Just flip the switch and let the learning happen. However, we know how much it takes even in the most normal of circumstances, let alone what we’ve been living through for the past 18 months. The fact that we were able to “do our job” and open our schools says something about North Shore and all the dedicated people that work here. I know a lot is made of the SVO’s, but it’s worth reflecting on the Shared Values which drive us as a district: COLLABORATORS. COMMUNCIATORS. THINKERS. PROBLEM SOLVERS. INNOVATORS. COMMITTED INDIVIDUALS. Sound familiar? Sound like what you embodied and modeled for our students every day last year?”
He concluded by saying, “The Board of Education appreciates that you embody these values, instill them in our children, and truly embrace the challenges. We thank you for last year, thank you for coming back, and look forward to another uniquely terrific school year, together.”
Photos by Shelly Newman