At the March 21, meeting of the board of education, the appointment of Dr. Dennis Ryan as Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Pupil Services of the Great Neck Public Schools, effective July 1, 2005, was unanimously approved by the board. Dr. Ryan will replace Dr. Natalie Fulwider, who will retire at the end of this school year. Dr. Ronald Friedman, superintendent of schools, provided some background information on the position and introduced Dr. Ryan.
Dr. Dennis Ryan
Dr. Friedman stated, "This is a very important position with a great deal of responsibility. It is not an easy position to fill because it requires technical expertise, knowledge of the field, and the ability to work with teachers, parents, and students. Fortunately, we attracted very good people. After all applications were reviewed, a selection committee, composed of 11 teachers and administrators, met with eight candidates. They went through an intensive selection process in terms of the questions that were asked and the writing samples that were required. After all references were carefully verified, Dr. Ryan clearly emerged as our first choice."
Dr. Friedman explained that Dr. Ryan is currently the director of pupil personnel services in the Long Beach Public Schools and that, during Dr. Friedman's last three years as superintendent in Long Beach, he had the opportunity to work closely with him. "Hence," he said, "I know firsthand of Dr. Ryan's professionalism, knowledge of his field, personality, and people skills."
In a prior written communication to the board, Dr. Friedman said, "I believe Dr. Ryan is the candidate who best meets our 'here and now' needs in Great Neck. I believe he will be a very active, hands-on, visible, available, professional administrator. Most important, he is a good human being and the right fit for our fine community."
Dr. Ryan feels confident about coming to Great Neck. He said, "My experiences as a sitting director of pupil personnel services coupled with my prior professional life, as teacher, psychologist, athletic director, and coach, have prepared me for Great Neck. My present position has afforded me practical experience in dealing with the nuts and bolts issues of public education."
Dr. Ryan is a graduate of Boston College from which he earned a bachelor of arts in political science. He holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. His doctoral dissertation was entitled the "Effects of Different Incentive Conditions Upon the Work Productivity and Outer-directedness Tendencies of Institutionalized and Non-institutionalized Mentally Retarded Adults."
Dr. Ryan's long career in education began in 1975 as a teacher and coach at a private school in Austin. He was also a teaching assistant in the department of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and taught an undergraduate course, Foundations of Psychology, to student teachers. The course focused on the psychology of learning as applied to teaching. He also supervised student teachers.
In the summers of 1978 and 1979, Dr. Ryan was coordinator for the Governor's Office of Migrant Affairs in Austin, directing a remedial program for Hispanic youth.
Dr. Ryan began his 27-year affiliation with the Long Beach Public Schools, in September 1978, as a school psychologist, grades K-12. During his 16 years in that position, he either chaired or served on various district-wide committees, including learning-disabilities assessment, declining enrollments, special projects/grants, human-relations training, curriculum, and in-service education. From 1996-1998, he was director of health, physical education, and athletics, grades K-12. From 2001 to the present, Dr. Ryan has been director of pupil personnel services, grades pre-K-12. As such, he is responsible for the supervision of all pupil personnel functions --- registration, gifted and talented, home schooling, and special education --- and for the observation and evaluation of school psychologists, social workers, nurses, and speech teachers. He also developed 14 in-service courses for teachers, including Changing Families and Changing Schools, Contemporary Issues in American Education, Dealing with Diversity, and New Theories of Human Intelligence.
A researcher and writer, Dr. Ryan has had several manuscripts published, including "Mainstreaming Isn't Just for Students Anymore" in the Journal of Learning Disabilities and "The Intensive Multi-Supervisory Internship in School Psychology" in Psychology in the Schools. He has also presented papers at various conferences, including the National Association of School Psychologists and the New York Association of School Psychologists.
His professional memberships include the National Association of School Psychologists, American Psychological Association (Division 16), American Educational Research Association, Nassau County Psychological Association, New York State Athletic Administrators Association, and the New York State Association of Physical Education, Health, and Recreation Directors.
Dr. Ryan's interests include classical piano, reading (biographies, history, and pop psychology), travel (US and Europe), golf, tennis, and running (10 marathons). He is also volunteer youth coordinator at Our Lady's Church in Point Lookout.