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Chairs Up NHP Stairs

By Elizabeth George

This school year, NHP has welcomed two new assistant principals: Mr. Geritano and Ms. Rodriguez. Both administrators have strong connections to the building and are looking forward to helping students and staff this year. Both Mr. Geritano and Ms. Rodriguez shared information about their transition into the AP position and a little about themselves, as well.

Source by Anna Detke

Mr. Geritano and Ms. Rodriguez happily take their positions as NHP Assistant Principals.

Q: What was the adjustment period like when you became an assistant principal? What was it like getting acclimated with the students and staff?

Mr. Frank Geritano: Thinking back to six years ago when I transitioned from English Chairperson at NHP to Assistant Principal, it was exciting but consequently nerve-wracking. While I approached this new position with eagerness, there was also that little voice inside asking, “Will I do as well in this position as I have in my previous one?” “Will I be able to make a difference in my position?” “How will I be received by students and the faculty?” While eager to make the transition and move forward in my career, like everyone else entering a new position, I wanted to do a good job and ensure both students and teachers that I was there for them and will help them in any way I can to be successful. The adjustment period was a bit more challenging, since I was no longer at NHP but at Sewanhaka High School. Not only did I have to leave the school I have grown to call home for nearly 13 years, but now I had to learn the workings of a brand-new building with brand new students and a brand new faculty. When I went to Sewanhaka High School as the new assistant principal, I was in charge of the District’s vocational program, the Career and Technical Education Program. So, I forged ahead, rolled up my sleeves and got to work. Over the five years at Sewanhaka, I have implemented a new curriculum in the CTE program, got to know many students, as well as the faculty and created new friendships. My time at Sewanhaka High School was enlightening and fulfilling, but when I was allowed to come back to NHP, there wasn’t any hesitation. In July of 2021, I was blessed with the opportunity to bring my experience and expertise as assistant principal back to where it all began, New Hyde Park Memorial. Upon my return to New Hyde Park, I was genuinely happy to be back. I reunited with old friends and made new friends along the way. There are absolutely no words to express the student body here at New Hyde Park Memorial. I have been to many buildings in my long career, and there has never been a student body that even comes close to the students we have here at New Hyde Park. I truly feel honored and humbled to be back home.

Q: Many students have heard that you have worked at NHP years before. How has your experience working at NHP changed from now versus in the past? What are some things that are different and what has stayed the same?

FG: As you know, I had worked here at New Hyde Park Memorial High School since 2004 as the English Chairperson, then as District English Coordinator and later as the District Literacy Programs Coordinator. The one major change would be obvious: I am now coming back, six years later, as the assistant principal of New Hyde Park Memorial High School. My experiences are now vastly different due to the nature of the position itself. When I started here in 2004, I supervised only one department, the English department. I was honored to have been the leader of one of the best departments in the building for 13 years. When I returned to New Hyde Park Memorial in July of 2021, I had the opportunity to be involved in all disciplines, learning something new every day about the curriculum, students, the faculty and the building. There is always something new to learn every day. I haven’t stopped learning from our wonderful faculty and students. Some things that have changed are obvious: new faculty members, new chairpeople, rooms and offices from when I was last here, etc. The one thing that didn’t change is the compassion and community that NHP holds. As assistant principal here at New Hyde Park, some of my duties include testing, overseeing security and building safety and facilitating such committees as the Social and Emotional Wellness Committee.

Q: Many students are aware that while you became our assistant principal this year, you were our English chairperson for many years. How has your experience changed during this transition? What are some things that are different about being at NHP in this new position and what things have stayed the same?

Ms. Gina Rodriguez: This is my 17th year working for the Sewanhaka Central High School District. I feel so fortunate to have been given another opportunity to learn and grow in this profession while remaining at NHP. Over the years, I was provided with numerous opportunities to grow both as a teacher, but also as a leader. I was an English teacher for 10 years before becoming the District Coordinator of English and ELA Chairperson at NHP. As chairperson and coordinator, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play an active role in curriculum development. I am also proud to have had a role in hiring new and promising teachers for our school and district. I believe that being a successful leader requires a commitment to taking care of the needs of others — our teachers, support staff and all of the many people that help us carry out our most important mission of successfully nurturing the emotional, social and academic needs of our students.

Q: For students who do not know you very well yet, tell us a little bit about yourself. What are your hobbies? If you could use three words to describe yourself, what would they be and why?

FG: Hmmm..a little bit about myself. This is a tough one since I am not one to talk about myself much, but I have come to be very proud of and thankful for many things in my life. I am so very thankful for the career I have chosen to enter. I vividly remember in Kindergarten, Ms. Hogan asked the class, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” While some of my classmates responded with, “I want to be an astronaut!” or “I want to be a doctor,” I remember saying, “I want to be a teacher.” I never changed my mind. I began my educational career in 1988 as an English teacher, and ever since then, I never looked back. The road to finally getting to the career I so desired was not an easy one. Like many college students, when I entered college, I changed my major several times — from pre-med to accounting and then finally to English and education. I never regretted choosing the career I did, not even for a day. Now, that is not to say there weren’t some trying times along the way, as there is with any other career, but, to me, there is no greater gift than to make a difference in a child’s life and pay forward what has been given to you. Even though I am an administrator, in my heart of hearts, I will always be a teacher. I often think to myself, “I did not choose this career; this career chose me.”

I have two beautiful children, Mariah and Vincent. They are my two treasures sent from above. I am so very proud of the adults they have become. Mariah is 29. She recently got married and lives in Boston. Mariah graduated from Stony Brook University and works for Boston Children’s Hospital as a 3D Engineering Specialist. Vincent is 26 and lives in Virginia. Vinny graduated from SUNY Maritime with both his Bachelors and Masters and is now an assistant manager at the Ports of Virginia. When someone asks what my greatest accomplishments in life are, I have two words — Mariah and Vincent. My interests include cooking, exercising (I love walking, especially at Brooklyn Bridge Park) and music (I am a HUGE music buff!). When I have the opportunity to do so, I love to go to my favorite vacation spot — Puerto Rico. Three words to describe me would be adaptable, loyal and driven. Adaptable because, even as a child, I was able to adapt to all types of circumstances and situations. Loyal because I am a firm believer in keeping my word and being dedicated to people who depend upon me. Driven because I am always open to learning and making sure that things get done. I have high expectations for myself, and I always look forward to bettering myself to be a good role model for my children and others.

GR: Three words that describe me: Compassionate, Resourceful and Grateful, and I am a former college athlete. I played Division I softball at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. My daughters played college softball, as well. I am extremely passionate about my family: husband, two daughters and two dogs! Stop by and I can show you some pictures!

Q: What are your primary concerns and goals this school year and into the future?

FG: My primary goal for this year is making sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe as we all begin to acclimate to a new “normal.” Regardless of who you are, this pandemic has affected everyone on different levels. Part of my job is to ensure that both teachers and students can learn in an environment that is safe and collaborative. Moving forward, I would like to be able to advocate for more electives that students could take in all disciplines and offer more courses that offer college credit for students in all subjects. I want to also be able to get students involved in more building-based team projects to create a more unified building.

I am so excited just to be back home at New Hyde Park Memorial! I am looking forward to working with my colleagues both old and new. Getting to know more and more students as the year progresses, and the many events that we can all finally gather and celebrate. This year should be just that, a celebration. Let’s celebrate the U.S. Let’s celebrate our courage, our bravery, our diversity, our unity and our pride in each other and our school!

GR: I remain excited to navigate through my new responsibilities and feel so grateful that I get to do so in the place I have called "home" for the past 16 plus years. In my role as assistant principal, I now can get to know, support and influence even more students and staff! In addition, I have the pleasure of working with an outstanding administrative team, Dr. Faccio, Ms. DeGennaro and Mr. Geritano, who have supported me for most, if not all, of my career. Life opened a door for me that I was not knocking on, and what a blessing that has been!


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