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Garden City district, Tamarac Elementary win reading award

Students at Stratford School in Garden City

Students at Stratford School in Garden City read about and built rockets last school year during the Garden City PTA's "Blast Off to Reading" program. Credit: Garden City School District

Two Parent-Teacher Association groups on Long Island are regional winners in a statewide contest designed to foster a love of reading among youngsters.

PTAs in the Garden City school district and at Tamarac Elementary School in Holtsville were named Nassau County and Suffolk County winners, respectively, of 2017 Pick a Reading Partner Awards for programs they created to make reading fun and exciting.

The program, known as PARP, is a New York State PTA program that asks adults to read with children for 15 minutes daily.

Garden City’s space-themed program, titled “Blast Off to Reading,” consisted of everything from a video conference call with representatives at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to a rocket-making assembly with Woodmere-based Mad Science of Long Island.

The program involved five district schools for kindergarten and elementary grades: Hemlock, Homestead, Locust, Stewart and Stratford.

“Reading is a part of everything,” Garden City’s PARP co-chair Donna Kraus said. “We want children to read because they want to read and love reading.”

The program included a collection of 80 boxes of books for The Book Fairies, a Freeport-based nonprofit, and activity sheets with options such as “reading by flashlight at night,” Kraus said. Students received a star for each completed activity, and the class with the most stars from each school named a star through the Online Star Register.

Tamarac’s rock-and-roll-themed program, titled “Rock & Read PARP Tour,” featured a mock tour with fictional tickets. Each month focused on different types of books, such as fiction, graphic novels and picture books. Activities included visits from ventriloquist Steve Petra and children’s author Steve Metzger.

Tamarac students read more than 2,500 books.

“Anything we can do to help kids love literature is fantastic,” Tamarac Principal Michael Saidens said.


New principal

Stacia Walfall has been appointed principal of Clara H. Carlson Elementary School in the Elmont school district. She replaced Kenneth Rosner, who now is the district’s director of curriculum and instruction.

Walfall had been the school’s assistant principal since 2015, and before that served stints as assistant to the principal at Clara H. Carlson and Covert Avenue Elementary School in Elmont. She also has taught at P.S. 171 in Manhattan and Dutch Broadway Elementary School in Elmont.

“I look forward to continue working to produce the very best, smartest, wisest, well-rounded students, as we work collaboratively to educate our future readers,” Walfall said.


New principal

Julia Mullan has been named principal of Connolly Elementary School. She replaced Rosemarie Sekelsky, who retired.

Mullan most recently was principal of P.S. 102 Jacques Cartier School in Manhattan. She also has been assistant principal and resident principal at P.S. 98 Shorac Kappock Elementary School in Manhattan and spent seven years teaching at P.S./M.S. 029 Melrose School in the Bronx.

“I’m excited to work with the school community to continue the tradition of high expectations for our students and ensuring all learners are ready for the next step in their educational journey,” Mullan said.


New superintendent

John McNamara is the new superintendent of the Wantagh school district. He replaced Maureen Goldberg, who retired.

McNamara had been the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction since 2015. Before that, he served six years as principal of Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School, was an assistant principal in the Harborfields school district and was social studies department chairman at Island Trees Middle School.

“I am excited to continue working with the entire school community to sustain and support the excellence, tradition and vision of the Wantagh school district,” McNamara said.

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