23 Great Neck educators granted tenure; retiring ed board members honored

The Island Now
Joseph Hickey, the Great Neck school district's assistant schools superintendent, presents Samantha Tarantola, the director of community education, to the school board for tenure. (Photo by Samuel Glasser)

By Samuel Glasser

The Great Neck Board of Education at its last meeting of the school year Monday night conferred tenure on 20 teachers and three administrators, and honored two retiring board members.

“Tenure is a big deal in Great Neck and we acknowledge it publicly,” the school board president, Barbara Berkowitz, said to a standing-room-only crowd.

“It’s the highest honor for those hired, a formal confirmation that you met and exceeded the highest standards,” she told the candidates.

Three years ago the district experienced a wave of retirements and the “23 remarkable educators” cited Monday night were hired to replace them, Berkowitz said.

The tenure candidates represented the 10 schools in the district and each was presented by his or her principal.

For Samantha Tarantola, director of community education, this was the fifth time she has been granted tenure. She also received it once in New York City and four times in Great Neck.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” she said.

Tarantola left a tenured position in New York City and came to Great Neck as a part-time Spanish teacher in 1994.

She has also served as assistant principal of Great Neck North Middle School and assistant director of adult education. She was awarded tenure for each position that she held with the district.

Tenure is not automatically granted, but is earned after three years or more of teaching, oversight and evaluation. Tenure does not confer a job for life but it means that teachers cannot be arbitrarily fired and are entitled to a fair hearing.

Also on Monday, retiring school board Trustees Larry Gross and Susan Healy were honored for their service.

Gross is the longest-serving member, having joined the board 36 years ago. Earlier in the year, he retired from his day job as an executive with a manufacturer of commercial kitchen equipment.

“I’m exceptionally honored that I’ve been able to establish a good working relationship with a lot of smart, talented people, he said.

Gross said he found that his work on the Board of Education was “not so different from corporate work: follow the rules, focus on the product. But the product here is more important — the children’s success,” he said.

Healy is stepping down after 10 years of service. She said that she will continue to serve the community, “particularly the children.”

Replacing Gross and Healy as of July 1 are Jeff Shi, who defeated Nikolas Kron in the May 16 election, and Rebecca Sassouni, who ran unopposed after Ilya Aronovich dropped out.

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