The unique quality of Lynbrook schools doesn’t come just from their Blue Ribbon status, or the achievements of their graduates — rather, it is a function of the character of the district’s students and educators. In his first year as superintendent, Paul Lynch has made a point of defining the characteristics that make Lynbrook special, so they can be celebrated, and passed down to generations to come.
“That’s how we stay Lynbrook,” Lynch said. “By being very intentional about who we are.”
There are three overarching facets of Owls’ character, Lynch says — pride, caring and learning. These will be the ongoing themes of the 2023-24 school year.
“Owl Proud” is about making sure the school community understands, and takes pride in, what Lynch describes as a culture of caring and kindness. “Those of us that get it also start to perpetuate it,” he said. “So there’s a pride in that recognition.”
“If they understand that, they take pride in their community,” Lynch added. “And they continue those values that their parents and their community have given to them. And they’re not afraid to be that Owl — to be that generous, kind person.”
The theme “Owl Learns” focuses on the foundation of the district’s success, its education. When curriculum is made accessible, students succeed, Lynch said — and the responsibility for their success lies with every teacher, nurse, custodian and aide in the school building.
“Especially after the pandemic, kids’ needs are changing,” Lynch said. “All of us have to take ownership for the kids’ learning. And the learning needs are different. So we’re trying to keep up with what kids actually need to learn better.”
That means making sure the district’s English as a New Language program remains robust and effective; making sure children with special needs have the individualized curriculum they need; and making sure the schools’ roster of classes continues to prepare students for the next step after graduation, whether that’s college or a career.
The district has added a variety of new courses to keep students ahead of the curve — woodworking, drones, AP precalculus and business law are just a few of the specialized opportunities now being offered.
“It’s about the act of learning,” Lynch said. “In order to stay the same, we must also change. We have to adapt.”
The final theme is perhaps the one closest to the core of the district — “Owl Cares.” It’s about school staff caring about students, students caring about one another, and the district caring about the community at large, and “reaching out their hands when anyone is in trouble,” Lynch said.
The school staff recognized that many students were facing added challenges after the pandemic. The impact on young people’s mental health lasted beyond the months of isolation — with learning loss, mental health struggles and socialization issues, they continue to need extra support.
“We’ve been growing our Care team — our psychologists, our social workers, our guidance counselors,” Lynch said, adding that teachers and staff are just as integral to the effort. “It’s about trying to get the kids the help they need, and doing it in a caring way.”
By emphasizing the way the district staff cares about students, the students are given an example of how they can care about one another.
What makes Lynbrook Lynbrook is this idea that it’s just a special place,” Lynch said. “Kids really do hold doors. They really do say please and thank you. It’s an old-school type community feeling.”
“That’s what this community has always been about — that ethic of care.”