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Rockville Centre has state's Principal of Year

Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School

Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, stands in one of her classrooms. (July 25, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

A Rockville Centre administrator has been named the state's 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York, selected in part for her efforts to provide every student with a challenging curriculum.

Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School, two years ago mandated that all 11th-graders complete the school's most rigorous English class -- International Baccalaureate Language and Literature, Higher Level, a college-level course reserved at most schools for only high-achieving students.

Burris opposes the idea of limiting students' potential by "tracking" them in one type of course or another. She said the IB class offered the best curriculum and therefore should be required for all.

The high school provided academic support for those who struggled with the class and reported success across all groups of students. The principal said she will expand the program next year for seniors.

Burris, principal at South Side for 13 years, is an outspoken critic of the new teacher and principal evaluation system, which for the first time links educators' ratings to student performance. She has called recent reforms issued from the state and federal levels "too many, too fast and wrongheaded."

The administrators association, which represents nearly 7,200 educators, noted that Burris is widely known for bringing attention to these issues, calling her a "passionate educator and advocate for children."

Burris said she is honored to be singled out, but that the distinction reflects the work of the entire school.

"I'm very pleased," she said. "I love this high school."

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