While Huntington students have been gearing up for the year, most haven’t realized the hand that Superintendent James Polansky plays behind the scenes in all aspects of district operations.
The longtime educator loves his job and he works hard at it. Mr. Polansky seems to be present at just about every event across the district. He’s brimming with new ideas to move Huntington forward in 2016/17.
Similar to districts across New York State, Huntington faces challenges as the new school year gets underway. “In the new tax cap era, we will need to manage finances in the short and intermediate-terms and also continue to engage in long-term fiscal planning to ensure that the district avoids deficit conditions and is continuously able to fund student opportunities while remaining mindful of the taxpayer burden,” Mr. Polansky said.
A period of rapid changes instituted by state and federal educational agencies in recent years has impacted many aspects of teaching and learning in Huntington and the nearly 700 other school districts in the state.
“With considerable disarray evident at the federal and state levels, there remains much uncertainty will respect to educational standards, assessments, evaluations and accountability,” Mr. Polansky said. “The federal and state education departments are still working through details and formulating regulations associated with the newly adopted Every Student Succeeds Act. There are likely to be many abrupt changes dictated for states and ultimately local education agencies, including school districts that we will need to navigate with little warning.”
Mr. Polansky assumed his position on July 1, 2011. Under his leadership, the Huntington School District established Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School in September 2013 and reinstituted a full-day kindergarten program in September 2014 following a three year absence.
“The Huntington School District has made great strides in recent years in all aspects of the educational process,” Mr. Polansky said. “Our diversity is our greatest strength. Our administrators, teachers and staff have become skilled in differentiating their approaches in a manner that builds upon individual student strengths and provides individualized support as needed, while also helping each student identify and pursue his or her interests. The accomplishments of Huntington’s current students and recent graduates speak for themselves. The list of their achievements is essentially endless and should serve as a source of great pride in the community.”
Mr. Polansky came to Huntington from the South Huntington School District where he worked as assistant superintendent for personnel and district services since August 2010. He earlier served as principal of Walt Whitman High School for 6½ years.
Named New York State Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York/National Association of Secondary School Principals/Metropolitan Life in 2010 for his fine work “turning around” Walt Whitman High School, Mr. Polansky had previously been the school’s assistant principal from July 2002 to April 2004.
A graduate of SUNY at Albany (BA cum laude), Mr. Polansky earned a Master of Business Administration degree at Hofstra University and an advanced graduate certificate in educational administration at Stony Brook University. He holds permanent teaching certificates in biology/general science, chemistry, Earth science, mathematics and business/distributive education.
Mr. Polansky began his career in education at Syosset High School, where he worked as a science teacher from September 1991 to January 2001. He coached wrestling, soccer, baseball and softball there and was the mentor/coach of Syosset’s Envirothon science team.
After obtaining state administrative certification, Mr. Polansky served as the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District’s K-12 director of science, a position he held from January 2001 to July 2002, when he became Walt Whitman’s assistant principal.
Huntington’s superintendent has led building initiatives associated with narrowing the achievement gap between students and utilizing data-driven and differentiated instruction, technology integration into classroom lessons, positive behavioral support, Response to Intervention strategies and learning styles instruction.
The recipient of the New York State PTA Distinguished Service Award, Mr. Polansky is an honorary lifetime member of the PTA.
Mr. Polansky also maintains a keen interest in interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities. He regularly attends Blue Devil sports events along with plays, concerts, art shows and academic competitions.
A longtime member of Section XI’s Executive Council, Mr. Polansky was the organization’s president during the 2014/15 and 2015/16 school years. He maintains membership in a variety of professional educational organizations and has been invited to make presentations at numerous school related conferences.
Mr. Polansky’s enthusiasm and ideas keep the district humming along. “He truly is the heart and soul of the Huntington School District,” a high school student said. As his ideas have been implemented, the school community has been pleased with the improvement in conditions, including overall classroom education and the programs offered to students.
(This story was written and edited by Katherine DeGennaro, a Huntington High School sophomore who is interning in the district’s Office of Public Information.)