Written by: Alania Pinto and Madeline Rong
How long have you been working in education?
Wow, education! I graduated from college in May of 1997 and I started in September of 1997 to 2022 … so around 25 years!
What is your favorite aspect of working in a school?
The students are always the best! I enjoy working with kids in general—that’s the best part of any job I’ve been a part of. The other thing close behind that, is that I have found all of the schools that I have worked with are really learning communities. In addition to teachers teaching students, we as educators learn together a lot about new methods, new curriculum, new technology tools, and it’s very collaborative. That’s another thing that I really like when I’m in school.
What was your initial reaction when you found out that you were going to be the new principal of Wheatley?
Oh, my goodness! I really wanted this job, so I was elated, ecstatic, and over the moon because I have known about The Wheatley School since I was in high school, and I had friends who had attended The Wheatley School and they talked about what an incredible place this was. When I became aware that Dr. Feeney was leaving and that there was an interview process opening up, I was really excited. I might not have left my last position were it not for this position. I also recognized that it is a difficult job and it’s a big job, and I’m a little nervous since it’s my first time being a principal at a high school! I’m still learning about the community, and I had lots of emotion when I found out! Before this, I taught biology, earth science, and general science for around 10 years.
How would you describe working at Wheatley?
I’m enjoying my time here, meeting new people, meeting colleagues, meeting families, community members, and of course, students. It has been a busy few months, learning about the community and getting to know some people. Once school started, that became even busier because everybody is here and in the building everyday! There were two phases to my job. In July and August, I settled in and learned about the community. During September, when school started, I could engage with teachers and students! It’s been a lot of work to transition since each school does things differently, so for me to learn about the East Williston community has been an adjustment for me. But, so far, everything that I learn about this school– community, faculty and students — I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated here. Nothing has given me the slightest inkling that this wasn’t the right thing to do. It feels really good to be here!
Are you a sports fan? What are your favorite sports? Which teams do you root for?
I was not an athlete in school, and this might surprise some people. I watch the Superbowl for the commercials! However, I do enjoy watching professional baseball, and personally, I like the New York Mets! For football, [I like] the New York Giants, since I’ve been to a couple games. For hockey, I would go with the Islanders, because I grew up around ten minutes from the Coliseum. I don’t enjoy watching hockey or basketball, but I’d pick the New York Knicks, only because they’re from New York!
Do you have any hobbies?
I don’t know that a minute goes by where I’m not “principaling”! There’s always an email to respond to, a kid to think about, or a staff member to check up on if they are not feeling well. It’s hard to say what I like to do when I’m not “principaling” because I’m always “principaling”! However, I love to eat, cook, spend time with my family, and go to the movies. I also really like music, especially live music, so I love going to concerts, shows, the opera, and Broadway. I love traveling, whether it’s local, like a trip into the city and walking around, international travel or traveling through America. Those are some of the things I enjoy doing!
What are your favorite things to do on your day off?
Number one on that list is spending time with my family, because I don’t get to see them that much during the week! My kids are in high school– well my daughter is in 8th grade, and that’s the middle school, and my son is in 11th grade—so they’re busy, busy and when I do see them, it’s driving them from one place to another. We enjoy traveling together, and we go to the beach in the summer a lot!
What is your favorite cuisine/ food to eat?
Oh my goodness, that’s so hard to say! I don’t have one favorite! I’m not a fan of raw seafood, raw oysters, raw clams, or sushi. Every once in a while I will eat it, but that’s not my favorite. I do enjoy what can only be termed, ‘ethnic foods.’ I love the cuisines of Asia and South America, specifically Indian and Pakistani food! I enjoy trying new things! I like things that I’ve never had before,
What is your favorite animal? Do you have any pets?
I do have a pet! She is four years old and is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel! Her name is Luna and she’s really adorable! All she wants to do is sit next to you and have you pet her. We got her the year before COVID, which was really fortunate, because if we had been looking for her during COVID, I don’t think we would have found her!
If you could invite 4 famous people (dead or alive) to dinner, who would you invite and why?
That’s such a hard question! Wow! There are so many people, and whatever answer I give you is probably going to be pretty typical! I would invite famous musicians to dinner. I would love to have a member of the Beetles for dinner and just hear how that whole phenomenon started. I would love to have a famous world leader, perhaps someone who was involved at the end of World War II, and learn how the various sides came together in that world conflict. That would be incredible! Until recently, I would have said James Watson, because he discovered the DNA molecule and fundamentally changed the way people understand biology. He’s actually still alive. But, he has said some controversial things, so I don’t know if I would invite him to dinner anymore. I do still think he would be a cool guy to talk to. Lastly, I would reach way back to Alexander Hamilton or someone involved with the founding of our country. I would like to ask them what they think of our country now. I would ask them if we are following in their footsteps, or if we’ve gone off the rails!