Michael J. Hynes named Port’s new school chief

Dr. Michael Hynes is slated to begin as the new superintendent of Port Washington schools effective July 15, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Port Washington Union Free School District)

Michael J. Hynes, an advocate of whole-child education and education reform, has been named superintendent of Port Washington schools.

He makes his way north from Patchogue-Medford school district on Suffolk County’s south shore where he served as superintendent since 2014.

Hynes will fill the role soon to be vacated by Superintendent Kathleen Mooney, who announced her retirement, citing health concerns, at a Board of Education meeting in December.

He is slated to begin on July 15.

School board President Karen Sloan said Hynes’ commitment to a whole-child education and reputation for community engagement are qualities that make him “a perfect fit for our district.”

Before serving as the Patchogue-Medford school superintendent, Hynes was superintendent for the Shelter Island School District.

Throughout his 20 years of experience, Hynes has risen through the ranks from elementary school teacher to elementary and middle school principal and then superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

Of his time in the Patchogue-Medford schools, Hynes said “they have been the most rewarding five years of my life” and he has been “proud to steward our vision and mission of what a whole-child education looks and feels like.”

Hynes has been a prominent voice in reforming public education. He has long promoted a whole-child education and been a critic of standardized testing.

In a TedTalk Hynes hosted at Adelphi University, he discussed his approach to education titled PEAS – physical, emotional, academic and social growth – which he said is steeped in research and will “maximize human potential and the talents that every single child has.”

The whole-child education approach is a turn away from the traditional college preparation method of standardized testing and a turn toward facilitating an engaged and emotionally healthy child.

Hynes has been involved in the Stop Common Core movement and a 2015 letter to his teaching staff stating he would not judge their growth scores assessed from standardized testing received national attention.

While Hynes was Patchogue-Medford’s school chief, recess was doubled from 20 minutes to 40 minutes, playtime was reintroduced into the classroom and student mindfulness was facilitated with meditation and yoga.

As a columnist for greaterlongisland.com, Port’s incoming superintendent has written about the need to preserve recess and play in schools, redesign homework and abolish the U.S. Department of Education.

Hynes holds a doctorate in educational administration and technology from Dowling College in Oakdale, where he also obtained his master’s degree in elementary education. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bethany College in West Virginia.

In a news release from Port schools, Hynes said, “I’m grateful and honored to join the Port Washington School District and I’m looking forward to reaching out and becoming more acquainted with the Port Washington faculty, parents and community members over the next 100 days.”

With Port Washington’s Board of Education, Hynes and Mooney will work together over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition for the 2019-20 school year.

Mooney has been in Port Washington schools for almost 20 years, joining in 2000 and serving in various administrative capacities before her promotion to superintendent in 2012. Prior to being superintendent, Mooney was the district’s human resources administrator and director of pupil personnel services.

“His commitment to an educational philosophy built around educating the whole child and his reputation for community engagement will build and expand upon the wonderful foundation established by Dr. Kathleen Mooney,” Sloan said.

Mooney began as school chief at a time when the district was experiencing increased enrollment. In a past email, she said, “It was important to address the academic and social/emotional needs of our students, especially with new academic standards, while staying within the tax cap levy limit.”

She is credited by many with facilitating a positive relationship between central administration and staff.

Regina McLean, president of Port’s Teachers Association, said at a December board meeting “when Dr. Mooney became superintendent of the Port Washington schools, she changed the tone and created a calm in the district at a much needed time.”

When she announced her retirement, Mooney said, “I have loved every minute of being here despite some very challenging times, but you always see the best in people in the hardest of times and I have always, always found that here in Port Washington.”

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Jessica Parks

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