Great Neck school year starts smoothly with four new principals

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Great Neck school year starts smoothly with four new principals
Michael Grimaldi and Heather Sweet-Lazos, the principal and assistant principal of E.M. Baker Elementary School, welcome back students. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)

The Great Neck schools are starting a new year with a mix of fresh and familiar faces at the helm.

Of the 10 schools in the district, four will have new principals, and there will be four new assistant principals.

Michelle Ahdoot, the president of the United Parent-Teacher Council, said there are “a lot of new administrators coming in” and consequently “a lot of excitement.” But the school year appears to be starting “very smoothly,” she said, and praised the district’s process for hiring school heads.

“I think all is great and in motion,” Ahdoot said.

Luciana Bradley, who served as an assistant principal at Saddle Rock Elementary School for 13 years, was selected to lead the school at a board meeting earlier this year. Before that she was an elementary school teacher in the Half Hollow Hills School District in Dix Hills.

Kathleen Murray and Luciana Bradley, seen here with Superintendent of Schools Teresa Prendergast, will now head Parkville School and Saddle Rock Elementary School, respectively. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Kathleen Murray and Luciana Bradley, seen here with Superintendent of Schools Teresa Prendergast, will now head Parkville School and Saddle Rock Elementary School, respectively. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Bradley succeeds Michael Mensch, the interim principal. Prior to him was Eric Nezowitz, who was principal of Saddle Rock since 2007 until accepting a position in another school district.

At the time of her appointment, Melissa Zargari, the executive vice president of the Saddle Rock PTA and a member of the principal selection committee, said Bradley was someone who could “maintain the overall sense of community and love in the school.”

Succeeding Bradley in the role of assistant principal is Sara Goldberg, who most recently served as an assistant principal of P.S. 161 in Richmond Hills, Queens, for five years and a staff developer and testing coordinator there for six.

Kathleen Murray, the assistant principal at John F. Kennedy Elementary School for four years, was picked to lead Parkville School, replacing Debbie Shalom, who served as its principal since 2002 until her retirement. Before that, Murray worked in Munsey Park Elementary School as a special education and general education teacher, as well as the assistant principal.

The new school year also marks the return of Michelle Bell to the Great Neck Public Schools, this time as assistant principal of JFK Elementary School. Before her most recent appointment as an assistant principal in the Garden City Public Schools, Bell was a general education teacher at E.M. Baker Elementary School and a technology teaching assistant.

“I am deeply honored, and truly excited, to be returning to the Great Neck Public Schools,” Bell said. “I am committed to working in a partnership with Mr. Gimondo, the students, the parents, and the staff to nurture the academic, social and emotional development of each of our students. I am thrilled and privileged to be a part of this wonderful community.​”

Michael Grimaldi, meanwhile, took the helm at E.M. Baker Elementary School. He was previously an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Eastport South Manor School District and an assistant principal at Southampton Elementary School and Bay Shore Union Free School District.

Gina Cartolano, in her message to the “South Middle School family,” said she is “truly excited to begin my new role” as South Middle School’s principal after having served as an assistant principal there for 12 years.

Superintendent Teresa Prendergast, Ryan Nadherny, Leonard DiBiase, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Stephen Lando pose for a photo. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)
Superintendent Teresa Prendergast, Ryan Nadherny, Leonard DiBiase, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Stephen Lando pose for a photo. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Public Schools)

Joining her are two new assistant principals: Leonard DiBiase, coming from Lindenhurst, and Ryan Nadherny, who has worked in the Great Neck schools.

DiBiase brings experience as the former principal of Albany Avenue Elementary school and coordinator of career and technical education and library media specialists with the Lindenhurst Union Free School District.

Nadherny has worked in both Great Neck North Middle and Great Neck South Middle School, most recently having worked as a school counselor and head of the guidance department.

“Each of these administrators brings a wealth of talent and enthusiasm to his or her position, and I know you will join me in welcoming them into the Great Neck family,” Superintendent of Schools Teresa Prendergast said.

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