'I don't feel like a newcomer'

New leader of East Meadow schools plans for district's future

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In Dr. Kenneth Card Jr.’s office in the Leon J. Campo Salisbury Administrative Center, there was a neat row of boxes stuffed to the brim with papers. The new East Meadow School District superintendent’s desk was already covered by folders and paperwork, and a family portrait sat next to his name plate.

“This office is a little too big for me,” he chuckled.

Card, 52, took the oath of office during the Board of Education’s reorganization meeting on July 6, after the district’s year-long superintendent search. And just a couple of weeks into his new job, Card has already made himself at home.

“I don’t feel like a newcomer,” he said. “Even at the reorganization meeting, I felt very comfortable and welcome, which is a tremendous sign of East Meadow’s kindness.”

Card was born in Belize City, Belize, and his family moved to New York when he was 6 years old. At 17, he followed the lead of a close cousin and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and he served from 1982 to 1989. “The Navy helped me reach a certain level of individuality,” he said, “and most of all, a strong sense of leadership.”

After his discharge — when he was awarded the Navy Achievement and Good Conduct medals — Card worked at the Industrial Bank of Japan, and later moved to San Diego, where he was an administrative assistant at Alliant Techsystems. But his passion, he said, was always education.

“I always wanted to teach,” he said. “I knew that I always wanted to be a history teacher, specifically.”

By 2000, he had earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Stony Brook University, and he began his education career at Harborfields Central School District as a social studies teacher from 1998 to 2002.

In 2002, Card became the assistant principal at Oldfield Middle School, and his tenure at Harborfields continued until 2005. Then, that July, he settled in the Huntington School District, where he worked for 12 years, first as Woodhull Intermediate School’s principal until 2009. He completed a doctorate in educational leadership and administration at Dowling College in 2008, and in August 2009 he was appointed the Huntington’s district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

“I’ve been an adjunct assistant professor in the department of Teacher Leadership and Learning at Long Island University since 2007,” Card added. He has also been an adjunct instructor at the School of Education at SUNY Old Westbury since 2011.

He was named East Meadow superintendent in late April, at the recommendation of his predecessor, Leon Campo. Now, with 15 years of administrative experience on his resume, Card said that he feels confident he will be able to lead the district in the right direction.

He has already reached out to parents of children who will begin kindergarten in September to ensure that the curriculum is just right. He has attended several community events, most recently the Parent Teacher Association Council’s installation dinner last month, to familiarize himself with organizations that keep the East Meadow district humming.

“I’ve met so many people from the Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club who not only do a lot for the community, but they also contribute to the schools as well,” Card said.

“I gravitated toward East Meadow because of its diversity,” he continued. “The district also rewards its students with education in the arts, which I think will provide them with a foundation to move positively through the [school] system.”

Card described the district’s academic curriculum as “extraordinary,” and said he hoped to make it even better. First, however, he has three items on his agenda that he plans to focus on: minimizing the use of paper by finding a more efficient way to communicate with the community; improving the district’s website, so parents can more easily find information and communicate with the schools; and enlarging the district’s social media footprint by updating parents on school news and activities on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

“I have to get to know the players first before moving on to bigger things,” Card said. “I have to get to know the community. And that’s something that I’m very much looking forward to. I want people to know that I’m very approachable. I’d like to continue to make the district as best as it can be for the parents, and especially for the students.”