Written by Betsy Abraham Thursday, 05 September 2013 00:00
With the new school year comes new classes, new students and at Westbury Middle School, a new assistant vice principal. Dr. Christy Baralis has joined the administrative team, bringing with her a passion for meeting not just the academic needs of students, but the social and emotional ones as well.
“I’m a firm believer that it’s not only the academics, but if you have the social and emotional needs met, and kids feel good about coming to school and they’re happy and feel safe, everything falls into place,” Baralis said. “When kids are engaged, it totally increases how they perform academically. If the child comes to school and is unhappy, it’s going to get in the way of their learning.”
And with the new vigorous Common Core learning standards adopted by all New York schools, Baralis knows how important it is that students are 100 percent engaged in higher level thinking and grasping advanced concepts.
“Common Core is increasing demand on schools and kids to be career and college ready,” Baralis said. “It’s really increasing the rigor of the programs being offered. I’m coming
here at a good time. With state assessments coming out we really need to work together as a team to get the kids to do better academically.”
With a large population of English as a Second Language students in the district, Baralis’ history working with ESL students has also well-equipped her for working with the school’s diverse population. She has a Bachelor of Science in Finance, Masters Degree in Elementary Education, ESL Certification, Administration Certification and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership.
She got her start teaching at New York City public schools for four years, before working in the South Huntington school district as an ESL teacher for grades three to five. As she pursued an administrative degree, she taught at the middle school level. Prior to coming to the middle school, she was working as an administrator at a sixth grade center in South Huntington for seven years.
“The population there was very diverse, so I had the fortunate opportunity of working with families from all over the world,” Baralis said. “My background is in ESL, so I’ve always been passionate and an advocate for students from other countries and second language learners.”
“I feel like I could be a very good resource in helping staff understand second language acquisition and how students learn English, as well as strategies they could utilize in the classroom to help them become successful academically,” she said.
She says that strategies like utilizing graphic organizers (such as Venn Diagrams), more hands on experiences and cooperative learning can help all students learn better.
Baralis will be working alongside fellow assistant Vice Principal Felicia Crawford and Principal David Zimbler. As she looks ahead to the new school year, Baralis says that her goal for the school year is simply to make sure students are successful.
“The goal with the Common Core is to make sure the kids are college and career ready, so my goal is to give them the tools they need to utilize for the next school year,” Baralis said. “And to continue to provide kids with strategies to be successful in social, emotional and academic areas.”