“Pupils come first.” With that succinct appraisal, Dr. Mark Ferris, the assistant superintendent for instruction in the Wantagh School District, summed up his years working with Rachel Green, the newly appointed principal of Valley Stream’s North High School.
“Rachel is one of those people who are just very special,” Ferris continued. “We worked together for five and a half, six years, and she’s always willing to go the extra mile.”
Green, who was Ferris’s No. 2, is finishing her tenure as assistant principal of North Shore Middle School in Glen Head, having previously served in the same position at Locust Valley High School, and before that, as a dean in the Jericho School District.
As assistant principal, Green wears a number of hats. “She’s responsible for health and safety — for the well-being of the pupils,” Ferris said. “This means working with teachers and counselors to identify students who are struggling, and get them some help. And she’s responsible for discipline, which for Rachel, never just means punishment. It’s always important to her to help the child understand the larger lesson. What can they take away that will benefit them going forward?”
Green also directs the school’s emergency re-sponse team, and has helped develop North Shore’s goals and vision. She is responsible, too, for the full range of testing, from mid-term exams to finals to state testing.
“She has a deep understanding of the proctoring system,” said current North Shore Principal Robert Dennis. North Shore had no glitches in administering the state English Language Arts exams earlier this year, although it used the same Questar system that proved a bane to other schools.
Like Ferris, Dennis is a fan. “I’m in my first year here, and Rachel’s been a phenomenal help in learning the culture of the school. She’s student-centered, a creative problem-solver, collaborative — a true team player.”
Green has a master’s in multi-cultural education from SUNY Stony Brook and a second master’s from Touro College in educational leadership. She also has many years of classroom experience teaching French and Spanish.
“One of the many things that attracted me to North initially was the diversity, the many nationalities represented,” Green said. North is the center of Central High School District’s World Language and English as a New Language programs. “But the most important thing was the school’s fantastic reputation. That was No. 1. No. 2 is the school’s caring environment.”
“Rachel never leaves any child behind,” Ferris said. “She never finishes any conversation until she’s sure the kids feel heard and the situation has been resolved. They need to feel listened to. She always embraces the whole child. When you do that, they can really feel like they’re part of the learning community. And students need support and coaching. When you do that, students begin to do better academically. When they get all these things, the result is a more positive outcome for everybody. Nobody does that better than Rachel.”
Green described her career as a “natural progression: I was a teacher and a dean; I’ve been director of curriculum and a middle school and high school educator” as assistant principal. “Now, it feels like it’s time to be a high school principal.”
Green added that she had been a varsity lacrosse coach. “I’m also passionate about high school athletics,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard not to take out my stick and run out onto the field.”
“In middle school, you have a student for three years,” Ferris said. “They’re important years, grades four to seven. But you never get to see how they turn out. Working in a high school with grades seven to 12, she’ll have the opportunity to see their growth from kids to people who are ready to go out into the world.”
Green agreed. “Having grades 7 to 12 in one school combines all my experience as an educator,” she said. “And I’ve been really fortunate to work in school districts that want to work the way I believe in.”
When not in school, Green, who is married and lives in Huntington with her family, enjoys travel and outdoor activities — especially kayaking and hiking. “I love the national parks,” she said. “I once hiked halfway up Half Dome” in California’s Yosemite National Park.
But it is clear that her first love is working with young people. “I’m all in with Valley Stream,” she said. “I want to continue North’s fantastic accomplishments, and I look forward to becoming part of the Valley Stream North family, to meeting students and parents, to continuing the excellent work they’re doing.”
Green is excited by the challenge. Equally clear, however, is that she is
leaving behind shoes difficult to fill. Dennis put it simply: “We’ll miss her a lot.”