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The Port Washington School District is starting its new school year off with new faces in a number of positions including a new Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and General Administration, a Director of ESL, Manorhaven School Principal, Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics, Director of Creative Arts, Director of School Facilities and Operations and Director of Pupil Personnel Services.

Weighing in on the new staff, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoff Gordon says, "We are extremely pleased to welcome a highly talented group of new staff members to the outstanding Port Washington School District. Because academic excellence is always a priority in maximizing efficiencies, each new staff member went through significant committee and individual interviews, model lessons where appropriate, and rigorous background checks prior to being offered a position. They were selected from an estimated 1,200 applicants. Because of the difficult economic climate, hiring was done in a very careful and prudent manner, and although student enrollment growth continues upward all but two of the newly hired staff are replacements. The new staff members are an exciting addition to a school system known for its commitment to excellence, and the community has been extremely welcoming as well."

Port News asked the new Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and General Administration Dr. Kathleen Mooney to submit bios of the staff the district selected and to provide their educational philosophies. They follow below:

Dr. Mooney has served as the district's director of Pupil Personnel Services for the past eight years. During this time she has been actively involved in a variety of district committees and professional development activities as well as representing her administrator colleagues as APSA co-president for the past three years. Prior to working in Port Washington, she was the director of Special Education in the Malverne School District and a special education teacher in the Glen Cove School District. Dr. Mooney earned her BS from Molloy College, her MS in Special Education from Adelphi University, and her Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) and doctorate degree in Educational Administration from Hofstra University.

Throughout her tenure as the director of Pupil Personnel Services, Dr. Mooney remained committed to developing and advancing the special education programs and services for the district's students with disabilities and supporting high quality instructional programs for all students. She notes, "I constantly strive to make educational decisions that are in the best interests of children."

Dr. Mooney shares that, "In Port Washington, I have encountered many strong, courageous families, and amazing educators in special education and general education alike. They have taught me how the power of love, faith in the human spirit, and the desire to create hope through hard work and compassion can move the steepest of mountains. It is these core-learning principles that I take with me to my new position. As the assistant superintendent for Human Resources, I will work collaboratively with staff, parents and students to ensure that the tradition of educational excellence that so richly defines our school community continues to meet the needs of our diverse student population."

Shirley Cepero joins the administrative staff of the Port Washington UFSD as the new director of ESL. Ms. Cepero worked in the Freeport School District, where she was an ESL/Bilingual teacher for over 18 years. Ms. Cepero also served as Summer High School principal for two years during her tenure in Freeport. She spent the last 4 years as an assistant principal at Riverhead High School before coming to Port Washington. Ms. Cepero is bilingual in Spanish and received her BA from SUNY-Albany, her MA from Columbia University, and a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Educational Administration at Hofstra University where she continues to work toward her doctorate in Educational Administration.

Ms. Cepero's educational interests include mentoring new teachers, differentiated instruction and creative approaches for diverse learning styles. Her philosophy of education is that "all children can learn." She also believes that there should be a strong collaboration between ESL and mainstream teachers in order to foster growth and support achievement for English Language Learners. Ms. Cepero shares that, "It's the key to success for a well-rounded program that endeavors to educate the whole child. I enjoyed the diversity of the students at Freeport and Riverhead, and now I am very happy to be in Port Washington--another richly diverse community."

During her first few weeks as newly appointed principal in Port Washington, Ms. Cohen has learned that the Manorhaven Elementary School is a special place. There is a feeling of "family" in the building and a wonderful team of parents and staff that work together in a collaborative learning environment. She feels very fortunate to be in her new role. She comes to Port Washington from the New York City School System where she spent the past few years as Assistant Principal of P.S. 120 in Flushing. She notes, "The diverse cultures represented there enriched her life and she has been told that her enthusiasm and passion for education enriched the lives of the children, teachers and parents at the school." Her footprints were also left behind at P.S. 178 in Holliswood and P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadows where she worked as a literacy coach and lead teacher. Ms. Cohen earned her BA from State University College at Cortland, her MS in Education from Hofstra University and her PD in Educational Administration from LIU- CW Post. Ms. Cohen has studied literacy education extensively over the past decade at Teachers College and helped implement the Balanced Literacy Initiative in New York City.

As an administrator and an educator, Ms. Cohen shares that, "I believe that first and foremost it is my responsibility to provide each child, regardless of their learning style and ability, a personalized, differentiated education in an encouraging and stimulating environment. I look forward to sharing a successful year with the Manorhaven School community.

Stephanie Joannon is the new Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics for the Port Washington Schools. Ms. Joannon moves to administration after teaching physical education at Schreiber High School for 28 years. She also coached the girls' varsity soccer, basketball and softball teams, creating a cooperative relationship with the community and athletic teams. Ms. Joannon earned her BA from Springfield College, her master's degree in Sports Management from Adelphi University, and her PD in Educational Administration from LIU - C.W. Post.

Ms. Joannon comments that, "Teaching and coaching all these years in Port, has given me some of the best memories of my life. The students, athletes and parents have been wonderful and it has been an honor and a privilege to be part of Port's tradition. Now I will be able to lead in a different direction. I look forward to working with the Port Washington staff and community to share the vision and bring even more pride and respect to our academic and athletic programs."

Rose M. Marvel is the newly appointed Director of Creative Arts in the Port Washington School District. She holds her SDA in Educational Administration, a Master's Degree in Secondary Education and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from Hofstra University. Ms. Marvel was previously the Director of Music, Art and Cultural Arts in the Patchogue-Medford School District for two years. Prior to that position, she was an Elementary Classroom Music Specialist in the Commack Public School District for almost 20 years integrating an interdisciplinary approach to teaching music and movement utilizing differentiated instruction. In addition, Ms. Marvel has experience teaching students at the pre-K level, sixth- to eighth-grade levels, and college level. She was recognized by radio station WBLI as "Class of the Week" and Channel 12 News for linking music to the academic curriculum. Furthermore, she was nominated Teacher of the Year in 1996 and 1992. From this unique vantage point, Ms. Marvel has acquired a global perspective on how essential interdisciplinary instruction is and how much each member of the faculty contributes to the academic achievement of all students in conjunction with meeting their social and emotional needs.

As a lifelong learner, Ms. Marvel believes strongly in participating in new initiatives to enhance the educational environment for both students and staff members. Her philosophy is that "every child can learn." Ms. Marvel says, "I am very excited to begin my administrative journey in the Port Washington School District and I am looking forward to working with administration, teachers, parents and students to provide an optimal fine arts education that will afford every student the opportunity to learn, feel good about one's learning, and be successful."

Mr. Ristano's career in school facilities began when he was hired as a substitute maintainer at East Rockaway UFSD where he worked his way "up the ladder" to director of facilities. At an early age he became a Licensed Master Plumber and built a successful plumbing and heating business before entering the school facilities setting. He resides in Oceanside with his wife, Kathy, and two sons, ages 14 and 11.

Mr. Ristano believes that the foundation of a good learning/educational experience is to have clean, safe and well-maintained buildings. Mr. Ristano shares that, "With my commitment to high standards, I will strive to convey a sense of efficiency, prudent use of resources, and good cleaning practices to my staff. I appreciate the opportunity I have been given by the BOE to further my career in such a fine educational setting."

Ms. Tobin's commitment to the belief that all children can learn, although it may be in different ways and at different rates, began by working with autistic children and teaching special education elementary through high school. She received a B.A. in Psychology from Hofstra University, a master's in Special Education from L.I.U.-C.W. Post and a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Educational Administration from Hofstra University. As an assistant principal in the Nassau BOCES Special Education Middle School Program, and in the Lawrence School District's Middle School, she assisted in creating the understanding that in order for students with special needs to reach their academic potential, a collaborative approach by all school personnel is needed for development, implementation and monitoring of interventions and programs.

As the Director of Special Education in the Plainedge School District and now as Director of Pupil Personnel in Port Washington, Ms. Tobin says, "I will continue to ensure that every student is given the chance to fully access curriculum, standards, be challenged and given the opportunities to maximize his or her social, emotional and cognitive skills. A team approach with all educators, school personnel, service providers, families and the community will ensure success for all students. I appreciate the opportunity to be a member of the Port Washington team."


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