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Baldwin school named National School of Character

Plaza Elementary School students Marcos Patino, Emil Arguera,

Plaza Elementary School students Marcos Patino, Emil Arguera, Kaitlin Timmes, Alexis Robinson and Taylor Antoine stand beneath the National School of Character banner the Baldwin school was awarded by the nonprofit Credit: Mary Furcht

Plaza Elementary School in Baldwin has been named a 2018 National School of Character by a nonprofit organization based in the nation's capital, the sole school on Long Island and one of 73 nationwide to be accorded the distinction.

The school, with more than 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, received the honor from To be considered, schools must demonstrate through a rigorous evaluation process that character development has had “a positive impact on academics, student behavior and school climate,” the organization said.

Plaza Elementary will hold the designation for five years and be part of a network of schools that serve as models and mentors.

“The honor is extremely important, but the reason the school got the honor is more important,” said Shari Camhi, the district's superintendent. “There’s a real sense of belonging and understanding of what it means to be a part of this community.”

The school's character education efforts range from mindfulness programs to Team ORCHID, a group of students who act as digital journalists and report on the school’s positive news, such as community service projects and events including Field Day.

To be in the running, schools were required to complete an application about their character education efforts and undergo on-site visits and interviews.

"The most meaningful part is being able to have high expectations for our kids, because now we've achieved it," principal Mark Gray said of the designation. named Plaza Elementary a State School of Character in February. Lee Road Elementary School in the Levittown school district also earned that honor.


New principal

Richard Schaffer has been appointed principal of East Rockaway High School. He replaced Neil Lederer, who held the position on an interim basis.

Schaffer previously spent 17 years at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 in Bayside, Queens, where he taught social studies before becoming dean and assistant principal. 

“I look forward to helping the school move forward in terms of the district’s five-year strategic plan, especially the use of technology in the classroom and improved parent communication,” Schaffer said. “I plan to use my experience to help the administrative team analyze and evaluate the systems and structures of the school and collaboratively come to decisions about making improvements.”


New principals

The Herricks school district has named two new principals — Joan Keegan at Herricks High School and Brian McConaghy at Herricks Middle School.

Keegan previously was the middle school’s principal. She replaced James Ruck, who held the position on an interim basis.

McConaghy had served as an assistant principal at Great Neck South Middle School. Before that, he was assistant principal and guidance director at Bayport-Blue Point High School and secondary chairman for social studies in East Williston.

“To me, Herricks has always represented an educational environment where excellence is expected and educators work closely with students and parents to meet those high standards,” McConaghy said. “This is an atmosphere where I think I can make positive contributions through collaboration with experienced and successful educational leaders.” 


New principal

Rachel Green is the new principal of North High School in the Valley Stream Central High School District. She replaced David Trizano, who retired.

Green served the past six years as assistant principal of North Shore Middle School in Glen Head, and before that was an assistant principal and K-12 coordinator of world languages and English as a new language in the Locust Valley schools.  She also has been a foreign language teacher in the Jericho and Westbury schools.

“I am looking forward to working with the wonderful students and staff and becoming a member of the North High School community,” Green said.

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