It was a warm and sunny first day of school for Wantagh’s teachers last Wednesday, August 28. Teachers, administrators, members of the board of education and community stakeholders gathered at Wantagh High School, to renew friendships and welcome new members into the Wantagh school family.
Wantagh Superintendent of Schools Maureen Goldberg provided opening remarks at the “meet and greet” assembly. “It takes a village to raise a child,” she said, adding that Wantagh “is a unique community,” because of all the community stakeholders that were in attendance to support “our students as we start the school year.”
Dr. Maureen Appiarius, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, welcomed the 15 new teachers and 4 administrators; Adriana Silver, Assistant Superintendent of Business, introduced the non-instructional personnel and reminded everyone that the “custodial staff has been busy painting and polishing to ready our buildings.”
Jim Brown, representing the principals and assistant principals, spoke about the “paradox of our age” and urged the staff to “set priorities,” to remain “passionate and committed” when engaging young minds.
Christopher Widmann of the Wantagh Supervisor’s Association spoke about “shared responsibility and trust,” while Tom Vereline, Wantagh United Teachers, used humor and anecdotes to urge his colleagues to remember that while last year there were big changes and difficult times for the community, “we picked each other up.” Mr. Vereline defined success as the ability to “overcome mistakes and obstacles.”
Finally, Mrs. Goldberg told her staff that they were about to “embark on a journey of learning and discovery.”
She added that “changes [in education] are here to stay and more are coming. Common Core is not our enemy and the teacher evaluation system is not our enemy. What feels distasteful is the intensity of state exams and its linkage to teacher performance that has us in limbo. There is angst and anger by parents and that may intensify. Our hope is that the state [Education Department] will re-examine their efforts.”
Then Mrs. Goldberg gently reminded her staff about how they can make a tangible difference in the world.
“Here we look at long term success of the whole child which is linked to hope, encouragement and well being, encouraged gently and appropriately,” she said.