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School Notebook: Mineola among nation's 'most innovative school districts'

Mineola High School students create wooden stools in

Mineola High School students create wooden stools in the school's fabrication lab, also known as a FabLab. Credit: Mineola School District

Mineola School District has been named among the nation’s “most innovative school districts” based on its creation of new norms for future-focused learning.

The district, which has five schools and about 2,900 students, was among 25 nationwide to recently earn the designation from the School Superintendents Association and the Successful Practices Network. The designations were based on case studies, on-site visits and detailed data analysis, the association said.

Mineola was the sole Long Island school district to receive the designation.

“This award is truly a reflection of all the amazing administrators and teachers in this district who can take an idea and really run with it for the benefit of our students,” Mineola Superintendent Michael Nagler said.

Specific district initiatives cited as part of the designation include providing iPads to all students, fabrication labs for pupils to design products, and green screens to help educators make videos. Students also have digital portfolios and create webpages to document their careers at Mineola.

In addition, the district has been named to Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools and was the first statewide to have all its schools earn the designation of Apple Distinguished School, meaning they demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology.

“At Mineola, thanks to the standards-aligned, purposeful adoption of universal technology, students truly own their learning,” the district’s case study said.


New principals

Allison Banhazl is the new principal of Waverly Park Elementary School, and Joseph Wiener is the new principal of Lynbrook South Middle School. They replaced the retiring Lucille McAssey and Caryn Blum, respectively.

Banhazl was previously an assistant principal at Norman J. Levy Lakeside Elementary School in Merrick. Wiener spent the past 11 years as the assistant principal of Jericho Middle School.

“I look forward to being the principal of Waverly Park, a rich and challenging learning community, where students thrive and tomorrow begins today,” Banhazl said.


New principal

James Duffy has been named principal of Francis F. Wilson Elementary School in the Rockville Centre School District. He replaced Thomas Ricupero, who retired.

Duffy has taught in Rockville Centre since 2003, including positions as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher and a teacher in the STELLAR (Success in Technology, Enrichment, Literacy, Library and Research) Program. He also has been a summer school principal, academic facilitator at the district’s Jennie E. Hewitt Elementary School and director of Project Great, which is the district’s before- and after-school program for elementary schools.

“Working together I think we can achieve some amazing things this year,” Duffy said.


Fire safety

Many area schools hosted programs last month designed to teach fire safety skills in recognition of National Fire Prevention Month.

In Seaford, children at Seaford Manor Elementary School practiced exit drills using an Exit Drills in the Home (EDITH) trailer that filled with fake smoke courtesy of the Seaford Fire Department. They also learned the importance of smoke detectors and knowing two ways out in an emergency.

In Merrick, Roland A. Chatterton Elementary School students were advised to set up an outdoor meeting spot with their families in case of a fire during a visit from members of the Merrick Fire Department. They were also treated to an up-close look at fire trucks and their equipment.

In Valley Stream, kindergartners at Clear Stream Avenue and Shaw Avenue elementary schools learned how to escape through a window, tried on fire gear, and learned to “stop, drop and roll” during a visit to the Clearstream Avenue Firehouse.


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