'Don't have to be bad to be better'

Harrington readies district for year of new demands


Dr. Phyllis Harrington has been at the helm of the Oceanside schools for a little under two months, and she is raring to get started on a new school year.

She was to meet with the entire faculty and staff for the first time on Thursday, and planned to tell them that her theme for this year is “You don’t have to be bad to be better.”

“When I came here in July, I found a group of incredible people who are ready, willing and able to do the job, to fulfill the mission,” Harrington said. “I inherited a passionate, highly intelligent group of people who have the work ethic and insight to meets the need of all of our students.”

She said she hoped to build on the successes of the past and the district’s former superintendent, Dr. Herb Brown.

“It’s unbelievable to me that, 28 years ago, I was an intern in this district,” said Harrington, who demurred when asked to give her age. “Now I’m the superintendent.”

She said she has a couple of goals for the year. “There are many new demands this year on administrators, teachers and students this year,” she said. “Particularly with the Common Core curriculum, with the new teacher evaluation

system, there’s a lot of work to do. Our faculty has been working hard over the summer to develop curricula to address the Common Core and the way we present that curriculum to our students.”

She also plans to focus on special education. “As the first director of special education for the district many years ago, I came to understand that this is a huge component of our program, one where we have to work hard to meet the needs of our students,” Harrington said. “It is also one of the costliest areas. We have to keep the balance between meeting the needs of special education students without ignoring the needs of other students in the district. We need to pay attention to the Level 4 students the same way we pay attention to our Level 1 and 2 students. They have their special needs as well.”

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