For the first time in over a decade, East Rockaway’s Rhame Avenue Elementary School has a new face in its principal’s office. Erik Walter began his tenure as the new Rhame Avenue principal earlier this month, replacing long time principal Laura Guggino-Hastings. Walter said that he was lucky to have followed her, and that he planned to continue the path that she began at the elementary school.
“I’m very fortunate to have come into a phenomenal school and a spectacular environment. My goal is to build off all the good things that are already here, rather than make major sweeping changes.”
Before coming to Rhame, Walter, a Long Beach resident, worked as a fourth and fifth grade teacher at P.S. 232 in New York City before coming assistant principal at P.S. 64 in Ozone Park. He said he was motivated to step into the role as principal by mentors in New York City. “I was lucky to have such tremendous mentors in my principal at P.S. 64 and 232, and they developed me and really gave me that push to become principal,” Walter said.
Walter’s interest in heading a school came from a natural drive and talent. “I have always believed in schools needing a strong educational leader, and I was always great at collaborating and conversing with my colleagues and building a sense of community,” he said. “When I put all of that together I really thought that it would be a great fit between Rhame Avenue and myself.”
Everyone that I met [at Rhame], the teachers parents, staff, custodians, administration, they were all very warm, very inviting, and they had the needs of the children first and foremost, and that’s something that I believe in very strongly.”
Walter said that he chose Rhame over other schools with openings due to the close-knit community in the East Rockaway schools. “There is a lot of parental support here and a lot of support from across the district, and they’re never more than an arm’s length away. No matter what you need and when you need it, there’s always somebody you can reach out to.”