Jeanette Wojcik has been teaching young children for 17 years in a variety of capacities. She began her career in the Cold Spring Harbor Central School District teaching in first, second and third grade classrooms. She then moved on to working as a literacy specialist working with children from second through sixth grade who struggled with reading. At the same time, she became the lead teacher, a role which saw her help run the school by managing specific academic concerns with particular students with parents and mentoring new teachers, all while still servicing students.
This wide range of responsibilities she has had over her career plays a large role in Wojcik’s belief that she will succeed in her new role as Sea Cliff Elementary School’s new principal.
“One of the things that I bring to a building principal position is the idea that I’ve had the experience of being within an elementary classroom,” she said. “But I’ve also had the experience of being a support service provider and overseer of academic intervention, and that is such a unique global perspective to have.”
Born on May 17, 1979, Wojcik is a lifelong Long Islander, growing up in Syosset and moving to Garden City before starting her freshman year of high school. She graduated from Garden City High School in 1997 and went on to earn her undergraduate degree in elementary education from St. Joseph’s College in 2001. By the end of 2002, she had also received her Masters in literacy from C.W. Post.
Although she initially entered college planning to study psychology, Wojcik decided becoming a psychologist was too much of an individualized path for her. She wanted to do something with more community outreach and the ability to affect change on a wider scale. She spoke with a professor of hers who asked her to remember what she did as a child that resembled a career. As Wojcik recalled teaching her teddy bears using a small blackboard, her desire to pursue a career in education was born and has not waivered since.
“I love learning,” she said. “I love knowing new things, I like to research. I just like to share my information, so I think it was a general feeling growing up that fed that desire to know things and to want to learn.”
After she learned of the open position at Sea Cliff Elementary, Wojcik said she found the North Shore School District to be very consistent with her beliefs as an educator. She said she agrees with the district’s concentration on shared values outcomes, which emphasize the specific skills and dispositions of individual students to help them become they best they can be. Each child is unique, she said, and school should be a place where they can achieve their potential.
“It’s not just about academics,” Wojcik said, “it’s about getting to the essence of a child and who they are and just driving their potential in all areas.”
With over 100 candidates interviewed for the position, Dr. Peter Giarrizzo, superintendent of schools in the North Shore School District, said Wojcik is bright, articulate and has a “terrific” temperament. One of the things that stuck out to him the most, he said, was her tremendous understanding of teaching at an elementary level across all subjects,
“I think [the community] can expect a really good communicator who’s a strong listener, who understands good teaching and learning and will love their kids,” said Giarrizzo. “She’s very warm and kind, and so I think that will take her very far.”
Dave Ludmar, vice president of the North Shore Board of Education, said Wojcik provided him with an excellent first impression. “She has terrific energy,” he said. “She is so excited to take on this role, to meet our community and to get to work as a building leader.”
Ludmar said that Wojcik’s concentration on educating the whole child makes her a perfect fit for the position, as she shares the same values that the district tries to project. He said her transition into her new role should be seamless.
Wojcik has also already planned for the development of an engineering design lab which would enable students to explore STEAM fields while working on fun projects. However, at the start of her tenure with the North Shore schools, she said she plans to take a step back to learn about the community, students and teachers to learn about their needs. She said she is looking forward to collaborating with everyone around her to help make Sea Cliff Elementary School the best it can be.
“I would love for the community to know that their children are at the heart of every decision that I make, whatever that decision is,” said Wojcik. “It is always with students in mind and what is best for them academically, socially, emotionally and as a whole child. So, for me, that is my guiding light.”