A Levittown middle school has been recognized nationally for its dedication to character development.
Jonas E. Salk Middle School is among 84 schools and seven districts nationwide named 2020 Schools of Character by the nonprofit Character.org. The school, which also earned the distinction in 2016, was the only one to receive the designation on Long Island.
To be selected, schools met standards that are articulated in Character.org's 11 Principles Framework for Schools, which range from providing students with opportunities for moral action to engaging families as partners in the character-building effort. They also underwent on-site visits and interviews.
Jonas E. Salk's character education efforts are highlighted by a R.I.S.E. (Respect and Responsibility, Integrity, Safety and Staying Healthy, and Empathy) program that is committed to fostering social-emotional development and creating opportunities for academic excellence and civic education. The school also hosted a quarterly R.I.S.E. Day that consisted of team-building and problem-solving activities.
"Our R.I.S.E. program continues to flourish as seen by the continuous growth of our social-emotional learning programs and student and community involvement," said Jonas E. Salk school psychologist Barbara Monteiro-Grady.
In addition, Brookside and Plaza elementary schools in Baldwin, Lawrence Elementary School, and the Bellmore School District were among 264 organizations and schools nationwide with initiatives certified this year by the nonprofit as Promising Practices.
"Each of these programs and initiatives have demonstrated significant impact and strongly align with the principles that help schools and organizations cultivate a culture of character," Character.org president Arthur Schwartz said of those designees.
Daniel McKeon is the new superintendent of East Moriches School District. He replaced Charles Russo, who retired.
McKeon had been principal of West Babylon Junior High School since 2016, and before that was an assistant principal at Northport High School. He also has been a curriculum associate for social studies in the Deer Park School District, a social studies teacher at William Floyd High School, and a middle school teacher at Raynor Country Day School in Westhampton.
"Having the opportunity to continue the East Moriches school district's tradition of excellence is an honor I consider myself lucky to be a part of," McKeon said. "The short term future holds many challenges, but a community like East Moriches historically bands together using perseverance and community involvement to maintain a path to success."
Scott Bullis has been appointed principal of Joseph A. Edgar Intermediate School. He replaced Linda Murphy, who retired.
Bullis was previously principal of Oceanside School No. 5 and before that was principal of Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School in Amityville.
"I believe that positive attitudes lead to endless discoveries and new ideas," Bullis said. "By creating an atmosphere at Joseph A. Edgar where students feel safe to explore and think outside the box, we are providing them with opportunities for great success."
Eighty-three Long Island schools were among 582 statewide named 2019-20 Recognition Schools by the New York State Education Department for their "high academic achievement and strong progress" during the 2018-19 school year, the organization said.
The Commack and Garden City school districts had four schools earn the designation, the most on Long Island, while the Bellmore-Merrick and Great Neck school districts had three designated schools. Ten districts — East Islip, East Meadow, Elwood, Half Hollow Hills, Herricks, Hewlett-Woodmere, Island Trees, Levittown, Roslyn, Sachem and Smithtown — had two designated schools, while 49 districts each had one designated school.
The Academy Charter School in Hempstead was also among this year's designees.