For many Long Island students and staff, the 2018-19 school year began before the first day of classes.
Districts across Suffolk and Nassau counties hosted a range of special events — back-to-school barbecues, orientation sessions and team-building programs — to prepare pupils, families and teachers for the academic year.
In Amityville, incoming sophomores were led on tours of the high school and were assisted in finding their classes and lockers by members of the school’s National Honor Society. In addition, 20 new teachers attended an orientation that included a trolley tour through local neighborhoods and description of Amityville's history by Ken Lang, a lifelong resident.
Kindergartners in Port Jefferson had an opportunity to experience their new routine during a practice bus ride, with parent volunteers on hand to greet them with cookies and drinks at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School. They also bonded with new classmates on the school’s playground and ball pit.
The Three Village school system, which includes Stony Brook, East Setauket and Setauket, hosted programs that ranged from kindergarten playdates to walking tours to the distribution of district-issued Chromebooks.
In Northport, the district held a new teacher orientation for 25 educators that featured a bus tour to familiarize them with the community and a panel of students who spoke about school-related topics, such as what makes a great teacher. They also were assigned to professional growth mentors.
“Having new teachers in mentor-protégé relationships benefits both parties,” said Dana Boshnack, the district's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “As the protégés are taught tried-and-true teaching practices, mentors can become more self-aware, improving upon their own teaching and professional competency.”
Kristina Biamonte is the new principal of Deauville Gardens West Elementary School in the Copiague school district. She replaced Michael Kelly, who retired.
Biamonte had served as assistant principal of the system's Susan E. Wiley Elementary School since 2015. She began her teaching career in Far Rockaway, where she was a grade team leader, math coach, staff developer and assistant principal.
“My educational background and personal experiences have helped shape my philosophy of education, centered around providing all students with opportunities to become good citizens and lifelong learners,” Biamonte said. “My goal is to support students with developing self-confidence, a love for learning and kindness, balanced with their academic success to become compassionate, creative and critical thinkers throughout elementary school and beyond.”
Laurie Welch Storch is the new principal of Dickinson Avenue Elementary School.
Storch, who replaced Patricia Essenfeld, came to the position after serving seven years as principal of Fulton Avenue School No. 8 in Oceanside. Before that, she was an elementary school principal in Orlando, Florida.
“I am honored to be a part of the Northport-East Northport School District, where families, staff and community members are truly essential partners in learning,” Storch said. “As the new school year begins, I look forward to creating long-lasting relationships as we create excellence together.”
Jessica Lukas is the new principal of Barton Elementary School in the Patchogue-Medford school district. She replaced Judith Soltner, who retired.
Lukas had been a special education director in the district since 2016. Before that, she served in the Rocky Point system as a special education teacher, facilitator with the committee on special education, and elementary English language arts chairwoman.
“It is my immediate goal to create a culture of excellence, community and growth through supporting all stakeholders,” Lukas said. “This will allow students the opportunity to grow their character, encourage dreams and inspire discovery within every classroom."