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Baldwin, Sachem schools win state reading award

Students in Plainedge High School's TV production class

Students in Plainedge High School's TV production class recently reenacted a scene from season three of "Stranger Things" while mastering the use of equipment both in the studio and the control room. Credit: Plainedge School District

The PTAs at Meadow Elementary School in Baldwin and Tamarac Elementary School in Holtsville have taken the state's top award for making reading fun.

The groups won the Nassau and Suffolk county titles, respectively, in this year's Pick a Reading Partner (PARP) program, a literacy initiative sponsored by the New York State PTA. The initiative asks adults to read with children for at least 15 minutes daily.

Meadow's PARP theme was "Camp Meadow-Waka" and culminated with an event that transformed the school's gym into a campground complete with s'mores, fishing for rubber ducks in an inflatable pool, and tents that each contained a different reader. It attracted 450 parents and students. 

The school's other PARP activities included a guest reader day and a Facebook page for parents to post pictures of their children reading for a chance to win a free night of bowling. In total, Meadow students read 225,000 minutes in a one-month span.

"The kids really clamped onto the idea," Meadow's PARP chair, Teresa Jimenez, said. "It's important to instill a love of reading at an early age."

Tamarac's PARP theme involved monthly videos featuring an impostor principal who encouraged kids to foil an evil plan to steal and destroy books by finding clues on "Tamarac Island," which was aligned with different book genres. Students would then report on the books they read through postcards mailed to the impostor principal and earn prizes such as binoculars, flashlights and compasses.

The school also won Suffolk's PARP title in 2017.

"The fact that we won twice in three years is pretty amazing," Tamarac principal Michael Saidens said.


New principals

The Long Beach School District has two new principals: Lorie Beard at Long Beach Middle School and Ivelisse Santos-Hernandez at Lido Elementary School. Beard replaced Paul Romanelli, who is now the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, while Santos-Hernandez replaced the retiring Brenda Young.

Beard previously served as the middle school's vice principal. Before that, she was an instructional coach in Amityville, an English language arts instructional coach for Western Suffolk BOCES and a teacher in the Harborfields Central School District.

Santos-Hernandez served the past five years as an assistant principal in Queens. She also has been a staff developer in Elmhurst and an elementary teacher in Brooklyn.

"I am always looking for teacher input and working to ensure that all individuals at Long Beach Middle School are valued and appreciated," Beard said.

"My goal is to enhance the social-emotional skills of our scholars to create an instructional environment where our students take risks and engage in community building activities," Santos-Hernandez said.


New principal

Jane Ruthkowski has been named principal of Manor Oaks School.

Ruthkowski has eight years of experience as a principal, most recently serving in the Eastport-South Manor School District. She replaced Kenneth Craft.

"Together with the faculty and staff, we will build upon the unique and wonderful learning experiences that engage and motivate the students of Manor Oaks, using innovative class lessons, while embracing tradition," Ruthkowski said.


New principal

Alison Hazut is the new principal of West Side Elementary.

Hazut, who replaced Michael Loughren, had been a principal in Mamaroneck since 2017. She began her career as a teacher at Isaac Shalom Elementary in Brooklyn and then at the Earth School in Manhattan, where she later became assistant principal and principal, and has been a consultant for the Ministry of Education in Israel. 

"I believe that my main role is to understand the various perspectives of all stakeholders and to use the mission and guiding principles of the school district to drive my everyday work, with children always at the center," Hazut said. 

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