Q & A: Greenport principal ‘must be doing something right’

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03/02/2013 10:00 AM |
Greenport principal gets tenure

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Joseph Tsaveras says a big challenge as an educator is keeping focus on education and not letting outside influences interfere.

Greenport Elementary School principal Joseph Tsaveras is getting cozy in the post he’s held for the past three years.

That’s because Mr. Tsaveras, 43, of East Quogue, was granted tenure last Monday night during the school board’s regular meeting. The board voted 4-0 to approve Mr. Tsaveras’ permanent post, scheduled to begin July 1. Board member Michael Mazzaferro was absent from the meeting.

Prior to coming to Greenport, Mr. Tsaveras, who is married and has two small children, worked as a district administrator at the William Floyd School District in Mastic Beach. He said he decided to switch careers and become a principal when the position opened at Greenport Elementary School because he wanted to have more direct involvement with students’ education.

Mr. Tsaveras said he was excited when he recently found out the district wanted to keep him long term.

“I must be doing something right,” a smiling Mr. Tsaveras said this week. “It’s more of a feeling of accomplishment … looked at as in a positive note.”

We interviewed Mr. Tsaveras moments before he was granted tenure. The following was excerpted from our conversation:

Q: Why did you decide to become an elementary school principal?

A: My first goal getting into education was to help kids … Both my parents were very involved in my life and supported me. My parents started a parents club in 1980 at my high school [Valley Stream North High School] and it’s still running today. It was for all extracurricular activities.

From the football team to the chess team, they would sponsor and help support the kids that went to all of those activities … When you’re in the classroom, you make a difference for the kids who are directly in front of you. When you’re overseeing the building, you get to make a difference for all of the kids.

Q: What are some of the challenges facing elementary school principals?

A: I think the biggest challenge is trying to keep the staff and the kids focused on the goal, which is educating and making kids smarter and not let all of those outside influences derail what we’re trying to do. We’ve developed more open communication and support for the teachers in order to take stress off and let them know that they are doing a great job, which they are.

A person that is happy and loves their job tends to do a better job. I think some of our parents feel the stress, too, because they’re seeing things that they didn’t see when they were kids. We try to support our families as well by sending as much information home as possible in both languages, English and Spanish. We invite them into the school so they’re a part of what goes on in the classroom, in our assemblies, programs and celebrations.

It’s challenging because their lives are busy as well and we try to keep them aware of what’s going on.

Q: Which accomplishments are you most proud of?

A: Keeping with traditions and building on the success Greenport has had over the years. The staff here has always been a family and worked close together. I always felt to build on that was to make more opportunities for teachers to collaborate and work together. I didn’t feel I had to come in and make changes on what went on here because it was a [national] Blue Ribbon school my first year here. It was more about how to make it flourish even better by making schedules that matched the needs of the staff and students.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: My favorite part of the job is dealing with the kids and working closely with the teachers. There’s nothing like walking into a kindergarten class. If you’re having one of those days, you walk in there and it all goes away. They are just great … I think my long-term goal as principal is to build on the success we have here at Greenport and to continue to move in the right direction for our kids.

My personal goal is to stay in Greenport, grow with the district and face the challenges along the way.

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