Washington Primary School has always offered students a family type atmosphere. Faculty and staff go out of their way to cater to the youngsters and make them feel confident, safe and valued. New Principal Michelle Richards is excited to continue the tradition that took root in September 1954 when the building opened its doors for the first time.
Ten of thousands of students have moved through classrooms over the past 64 years and more than a thousand faculty and staff members have worked at the school. That same nurturing philosophy has endured through the decades and made Washington School a very special place.
More than 300 students spread across kindergarten through third grade are expected on the first day of new school year. The youngsters will be met by many familiar faces and a few new ones, too. The teaching corps consists of a mix of veterans and relative newcomers who have been hired by the district and assigned to the school because officials believe they have the “right stuff” to help Washington School students thrive.
Dr. Richards has been Washington’s principal since July 1, 2018. She is taking over from Marsha Neville, who retired after leading the school for a dozen years.
Dr. Richards obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology at SUNY Albany and a Master of Science degree in childhood education at City University of New York-Lehman College. She earned a Doctor of Education degree in educational administration and supervision at St. John’s University. She studied for her state administrative certification at CUNY-Queens College.
At the time of her appointment in Huntington, Dr. Richards was an assistant principal in the Elmont School District since 2013 and an administrator there since 2009.
Dr. Richards began her career as a general education teacher in New York City. She worked at Public School 107x (2001-03) and Lewis H. Latimer School-PS 56K (2003-06). She later taught in Elmont at Gotham Avenue School from 2006-09.
In 2009, Dr. Richards moved into Elmont’s administrative ranks after being named assistant to the principal. She was the principal of Elmont’s summer enrichment program in 2009 and 2010. She also served as a district professional development facilitator, curriculum map developer for English Language Arts and as a district testing leader, creating the scoring schedule, selecting and training district scorers, facilitating the scoring process and ensuring testing documents are securely maintained.
Washington School’s PTA is ready to support teachers and help make the year a fun one for students and their parents. The organization is led by executive board members Danielle Falk (president), Suzanne Hepworth (co-vice president), Heather Martin (co-vice president), Donna Alberico (recording secretary), Jessica Taylor (treasurer), Leslie Laycock (PTA Council delegate) and Fidelia Zivkovic (PTA Council delegate).
Washington opened in September 1954 and was expanded in 1958 when a new wing was added to the east side of the building. It hit a peak enrollment of 629 during one of the Baby Boom years. No one can figure out now how so many youngsters squeezed into the school’s classrooms.
Washington School students have gone on to distinguish themselves in every possible way and in every walk of life. Washington alumni are currently studying at some of the best colleges in the United States and playing on several NCAA Division I athletic teams.
As Dr. Richards takes the helm of the building, she intends to build upon the formidable tradition established over the years and work with teachers and support staff members to give students a memorable educational and social experience during their time at the school.
With the school assuming a K-3 grade configuration and with a new principal in place, there will surely be some changes coming. But one thing will remain the same: Washington School will continue to be the happy place it has always been.