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Three LI schools named National Schools of Character

In Rocky Point, school and district officials were

In Rocky Point, school and district officials were on hand to welcome smiling students during the first day of school at Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School on Sept. 4. Credit: Rocky Point School District

Three Long Island elementary schools have earned national recognition for their dedication to character development of students.

The schools — Lee Road Elementary School in Wantagh, Meadow Elementary in Baldwin and Smith Street Elementary in Uniondale — are among 88 nationwide named 2019 National Schools of Character by the nonprofit

To become selected, the schools met criteria that included providing students with opportunities for moral action, fostering shared leadership, and engaging families as partners in the character-building effort. They also underwent on-site visits and interviews.

They will be honored next month at's 2019 National Forum in Washington, D.C.

"These schools' representatives, including educators, parents and students are working together to create stronger communities focused on character,"'s president and CEO Doug Karr said. "We are honored to validate their efforts and continue coaching them along their journeys."

In addition, Meadow's Character C.O.U.N.T.S. Club was among 232 organizations and schools nationwide this year certified as "Promising Practices" for their unique approaches to character development, peer mediation and conflict resolution, the nonprofit said.

Meadow's club is a cross-age peer-mentoring program that allows older students to mentor younger students. C.O.U.N.T.S. stands for Citizenship, Outreach, Unity, Nobility, Tolerance and Self-Discipline.

"I am extremely proud of our Meadow students and faculty," Meadow Principal Echele May said. "We have worked together to create a caring and inclusive learning environment where our students are empowered to be the stewards of our character education initiative."


New principal

Brian Ginty has been named principal of the South Country Central School District's South Haven Early Childhood Center, which recently opened for pre-kindergartners.

Ginty has served the district for 10 years as a principal of Verne W. Critz Elementary and as an assistant principal and principal at Bellport Middle. Before that, he taught social studies at Bethpage High and at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High in West Islip. 

"Our primary goals are to establish an environment for students to develop the skills necessary for success as they enter kindergarten and progress throughout elementary school," Ginty said. 


New appointments

Ronald Masera is the new superintendent of the Center Moriches School District, while Dennis Ricci is the new principal of Clayton Huey Elementary. Masera replaced Russell Stewart, who is now interim superintendent of the Smithtown Central School District, while Ricci replaced Kim Hardwick, who passed away after complications from surgery in April.

Masera previously served eight years as superintendent of the Remsenburg-Speonk School District. He also has been principal of Westhampton Beach Elementary and an assistant principal in the Longwood Central School District.

Ricci was previously an assistant principal at Clayton Huey.

"I am most excited by the opportunity to lead a district that is heading in such a positive direction to create greater opportunities for kids," Masera said.


New principal

Claudia Smith has been appointed principal of Miller Avenue Elementary. She replaced Christine Carlson. 

Smith most recently served as assistant principal at both Port Jefferson Middle and Edna Louise Spear Elementary in Port Jefferson. Before that, she was a regular and integrated elementary school teacher for 18 years in the Middle Country Central School District.

"Essential, to my philosophy is the idea that all children are unique individuals," Smith said. "I look forward to working alongside the staff in guiding our young learners to acquire a love for learning, self-confidence and the foundational skills that are necessary as they strive toward excellence for themselves, their peers and their community."

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