Nagler one of four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year award

Robert Pelaez
State Superintendent of the Year Michael Nagler of the Mineola Union Free School District, was named as one of four finalists for the national award on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of the Mineola Union Free School District)

Mineola School Superintendent Michael Nagler has implemented a technologically progressive curriculum that is a catalyst in his being nominated as a finalist for the National Superintendent of the Year award.

After being named the state’s Superintendent of the Year in October, Nagler was named a finalist for the national award by the School Superintendents Association on Dec. 17.  The award is presented to superintendents across the country who dedicate their time to make a positive impact in the lives of the students they serve.

“It’s an absolute honor to be named a finalist for this prestigious national award,” Nagler said. “There are plenty of people to thank such as students, parents, and staff, but it all starts with the support I have received from our incredible Board of Education.”

Nagler said the board has been integral in helping implement a more modern method of education in the school district in the past few years. One way to effectively accomplish that integration of new teaching methods, he said, is to anticipate changes that younger students will be experiencing years from now.

“I’m a big believer in thinking of the world that a current 5-year-old will be graduating into 13 years in the future,” he said. “When this year’s current seniors were in kindergarten, the first version of the iPhone was just released.  Now look at where we are. It’s so important to get ahead of these rapid changes in society for the benefit of the students.”

The new curriculum focuses on the progression of technology in today’s world, according to Nagler.  Courses that have been introduced over the past few years are centered around computer science and coding.  Nagler said that these courses have been a benchmark for other school districts across the nation.

“We want our staff to help students utilize technology in a way that can help them enhance their futures and teach them the intangible skills that computers can’t,” Nagler said. “These new courses allow students to practice problem-solving and critical thinking techniques in a more modernized way.”

According to Nagler, the teachers in the district have done an excellent job of not only implementing new programs and teaching methods but also learning on the fly and educating themselves.  While some parents do not see the benefit of a newer education style, Nagler believes that more will begin to come around and see the benefits.

“Parents and faculty members grew up when education was focused on the memorization of information,” he said. “Now, we live in a world where information is becoming easier to access and retain. Even though parents will come in and ask why these new learning styles are being included in our district, some are starting to see the positive aspects of what we are trying to do for the students.”

With some programs being incorporated in the district for three years now, Nagler said that the next steps will be to continue being ahead of growing trends.  In order to do that, he said it is imperative that everyone stays mindful of their surroundings, and to anticipate the fourth industrial revolution.

“It’s important that we progress and remain proactive when it comes to educational methods,” Nagler said.  “With a shifting economy and new computing and data revolution upon us, now more than ever we need to prepare our students for the real world at an early age.  Cookie-cutter classrooms and traditional teaching methods will not suffice for much longer.”

The winner of the National Superintendent of the Year award will be announced during the School Superintendents Association national education conference in San Diego from Feb. 13-15. The winner will also have a $10,000 college scholarship made in his or her name and presented to a high school student at a school that the winner oversees.

Nagler said he is not thinking that far ahead and is simply honored to be in the discussion.

“The main goal is to improve the quality of education for our district’s students,” he said. “I certainly hope to win, but I am honored to be in the conversation and have the ability to make our school district better each day.”

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