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New Super Readies District

When the Massapequa School District kicks off a fresh year of reading, writing and arithmetic this September, it will do so with a new superintendent of schools.

Bringing more than 35 years of academic experience with her, Lucille Iconis was named to the position in July and dove head first into the waiting workload. Even in the summer, the school district is a very busy place to work, according to Iconis.

“We are busy reading our buildings and grounds for the new school year, reorganizing and training staff, infusing new concepts into the curriculum and adjusting our programs to best meet the needs of our students,” she said, adding that she has received well-wishes from parents she has yet to meet. “I have a pile of messages here I still have to go there. I think many parents know me, but now I’ll be wearing a different hat.”

The new hat made its way to Iconis by way of former superintendent Charles Sulc, who retired in January after 44 years working in the district, with the last six years spent as superintendent. Iconis said the venerable Sulc offered her a piece of simple advice upon his exit.

“He said, ‘Lucille, just keep smiling,’” she said. “I’m a pretty optimistic person. That’s my nature; to be a problem solver and work through the issues, always looking forward. I enjoy a good challenge.”

Many of the challenges Iconis and the district now face are of a financial nature, with the current fiscal climate not exactly conducive to free-spending ideas aimed at enhancing education. But that is exactly the task at hand, Iconis said.

“To maintain and grow school programs in the current fiscal climate is quite difficult,” she said, adding that the district reduced the number of field trips this year to one per grade level. “We have to prioritize. With creative approaches and out-of-the-box ideas, we can bring all faucets of the community together to try and solve the problems that face us.”

Iconis said it is most important to maintain the school district’s core programs. She said the district’s Kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum will richly support the New York State Common Core Learning Standards, which aim to prepare students for Regents exams and ultimately better prepare them for college and careers.

But she knows academic success not only depends on curriculum, but also on gifted teachers and their relationship with students.

“Students need to feel that their teacher cares about them, not just academically but as a person,” she said. “That is what distinguishes each one of our schools. We educate the whole child; socially, emotionally and academically as well.”

And with the school year set to begin September 9, Iconis’ enthusiasm to begin working with students, teachers and parents is palpable.

“We have to remember that we are here for one purpose, which is for the children,” she said. “They must always be the focus of everything we do. They are our future and you have to believe in them and in the system.”