Great Neck South High School will soon bear the name "William A. Shine Great Neck South High School," honoring the school district's immediate past superintendent, a man loved and revered throughout Great Neck. Dr. Shine headed the Great Neck Public Schools for 22 years, and although he has not wanted such recognition, at the June 20 board of education meeting, amidst many standing ovations, he said that if this was the wish of the board of education that he believed in, then he would "respect their vote."
Bill Shine and his wife Susan at the recent Memorial Day Parade.
Board of Education President Lawrence Gross spoke first, speaking of the tremendous respect and appreciation that everyone feels for Dr. Shine. Mr. Gross, a 25-year school board member (the longest serving trustee ever), noted that he was on the selection committee that chose Dr. Shine. He also said that he "applauds Bill's management style, his leadership and dedication."
"Bill took the school district 180 degrees from where it was, regarding staff, parents and teachers, with his style of management," Mr. Gross added. "He taught us to respect management under glass."
Mr. Gross also noted how Dr. Shine assumed the role of principal at both North High and South High, at critical times. "He was always close to the students," he added. And Mr. Gross thanked Bill Shine for all that he had done for him, personally, and for all he did for the students.
Twenty-two year board trustee Donald Ashkenase addressed a long list of assets, which Dr. Shine brought to the district, with the value of small class size and small schools topping the list. Mr. Ashkenase also spoke of how Dr. Shine set up goal setting committees in each school, stating that Dr. Shine was "10 to 15 years ahead of his time."
Mr. Ashkenase went on to say how Dr. Shine created "alignment, not polarization" in the district, and he emphasized the high value Dr. Shine placed on the "average student." Along those lines, Mr. Ashkenase said, Dr. Shine also stressed the importance of a Regents diploma, with more Great Neck students achieving this goal.
Additionally, Dr. Shine "eliminated the schism between those in the gifted programs and the others ... placing a value on everyone," according to Mr. Ashkenase. It was under Dr. Shine's guidance that the district developed enrichment programs for all students. Dr. Shine also started the student recognitions at the middle schools and high schools.
Mr. Ashkenase also told how Dr. Shine developed the school board's policy manual and initiated annual maintenance on the school buildings.
"We relied on his guidance ... he was the CEO of the school district and there was never any tension." Mr. Ashkenase said. "He was my most important mentor and we relied on his guidance."
Board Vice President Judi Bosworth said that Dr. Shine "loved the kids and loved us." Ms. Bosworth said that Bill Shine "was always about the children and the future; that was his mantra."
Board Trustee Barbara Berkowitz thanked Dr. Shine for the respect given the board over the years, "due to the standards Bill set for the board." She also noted that Dr. Shine was the "sixth member of the board" during the search for his successor. And she said that is why the district had such a smooth transition to a new superintendent after 22 years.
Ms. Berkowitz said, "Now we will leave a lasting legacy. It's just a little thing we can give back to a man who has given us so much."
Trustee Fran Langsner spoke of how proud she is that next year her son will graduate from William A. Shine Great Neck South High School.
Bill Shine, a surprise guest at the meeting, said that he was "proud and deeply touched." He spoke of how hard it has been to stay away and how he would accept this honor at the wishes of the board of education, a school board that he so deeply respects.
Dr. Shine added that he was "proud to be a part of the school district's future and proud to be part of its past."
Mr. Gross told the Record that there will be a formal dedication, along with the presentation of a new sign, after school reopens in the fall.