Joanna Kletter, principal at South Oceanside Road School no. 4 in the Oceanside School District, has been selected as the 2018 New York State Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). This award is given annually to a member of SAANYS and NAESP who has set the pace, character, and quality of education for the children in his or her school. Nominees are administrators who are committed to students, parents, and the community and have shown exceptional contributions to the educational process.
Known as a passionate leader who considers all stakeholders, Kletter has implemented several innovative programs benefiting students, staff, parents, as well as the greater Long Island community. Commented School Psychologist Lori Borelli, “Joanna demonstrates a passion for leadership that has earned her the respect of students, parents, teachers, and peers.” She spearheaded the transformation of the staff’s Superintendent’s Conference Day into an Unconference Day designed for participant-driven professional learning. Participants overwhelmingly reported that they felt valued and were full of ideas for future collaborations following the event.
“Mrs. Kletter redefined the way we deliver professional development in Oceanside, providing teachers with an experience that was 100 percent tailored to their interests, passions, and unique professional goals,” said Principal Julie McGahan of the district Kindergarten Center. “The success of her vision for our Unconference Day was highly regarded and has inspired administrators from around Long Island to participate in and learn from our model with the intention to bring it back to their district.”
Understanding that children cannot learn when “their emotions are hijacking their brains,” Kletter integrated Marc Brackett’s RULER approach (Recognize Understand Label Express Regulate) to social and emotional literacy by teaching the students about feelings and their role in living a successful life.
“For 10 years, she has employed her passion and creativity to shape an environment where everyone—students, teachers, and families—learns and grows together with a sense of purpose and joy,” said Oceanside Board of Education Vice President Sandie Schoell.
“Upon first getting to know Ms. Kletter, one is struck by her tremendous enthusiasm and commitment to her work,” said Superintendent of Schools Phyllis Harrington. “She is consistently thinking outside the box and is incredibly innovative as she looks to perform her role as building principal.”
Kletter received her bachelor of science degree from the University of Delaware, her master of arts degree from Hofstra University, and her certificate of advanced study from the College of Saint Rose.
Kletter will be honored for her accomplishments at an awards ceremony on May 4 at the Century House in Latham, New York. As New York’s Elementary School Principal of the Year, Kletter will be celebrated as a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals at a recognition program sponsored by NAESP this fall in Washington, DC.