I’m madder than I was back in high school when the Brooklyn Tech yearbook club failed to name the then Young Screecher “most likely to Screech” about the way people forget how education shaped their minds and the minds of tomorrow.
Now, you all know the Ol’ Screecher was a great student who became a pillar in the community thanks to his hard work and brains, but if it weren’t for the fine educators at Brooklyn Tech I might never have become a neighborhood activist or found my way into this position writing whatever I want with limited editing and oversight (even if the yearbook committee failed to notice my potential).
Education is vitally important in all of our lives, and so it is with great honor that I announce BWECC!’s Educator of the Year: Neal Opromalla.
This is the part of the column where I share with readers Neal’s bio:
Neal began his teaching career in District 17 in Crown Heights. He taught on the upper elementary level, particularly grade 6, at PS 167K. Neal also served as a reading and writing staff developer before being appointed assistant principal at PS 191K in 1984 — a facility that was deemed a “school in need of improvement” that was approaching “school under registration review” status. Under the leadership of principal and former District 17 superintendent Thelma Harper, Neal helped launch a three-point improvement program focusing on reading instruction and staff development, better communication between school and parents, and behavior modification for students. The result was an increase in student achievement in reading and PS 191K was named the most-improved school in the state in 1985.
In 1988, Neal was appointed assistant principal of PS 200 in District 20. He served in this position until 1994 when he was appointed principal of the high-ranking school, which excelled at reading and mathematics and consistently placed on the chancellor’s honor roll. PS 200 also received the Improvement in Teaching and Learning award — a recognition rewarding schools where students demonstrate significant growth in reading and, or, mathematics.
In 1999, Neal served as the deputy superintendent of District 20 under the outstanding leadership of the late superintendent Vincent Grippo. Neal considers this experience as a highlight in his career as it was a wonderful opportunity for professional growth and a privilege to work alongside such a dynamic educational leader.
His love for the school setting led him back to a principalship in 2003 when he became the principal of PS 205K in District 20. Returning to a school reinforced his belief that schools need and deserve collaborative support if they are to succeed. This experience helped Neal prepare for his next position.
In 2004, Neal was appointed local instructional superintendent in Region 7. Neal led a cohort of schools in District 31 under the superb direction of regional superintendent Michelle Fratti, and deputy regional superintendent Dr. Dorita Gibson. It was in this position that Neal earned the reputation of being a “principal’s superintendent” as he fully understood the challenges of the principalship and what is needed to raise student achievement in purposeful and meaningful ways.
When the Department of Education reorganized in 2007, Neal was selected to be the network leader of Empowerment Support Organization 22. With his team, Neal provided exemplary operational and instructional support to a cohort of 27 schools.
Neal currently serves as the network leader of Children First Network 409 — the largest network in the city, with 35 schools in Districts 15, 20, 21, 22, and 31. Children First Network 409 has been ranked No. 1 for the past two years and has been deemed a “highly effective” network. Neal credits this achievement to his outstanding colleagues and to the amazing group of principals he has the privilege to lead.
Born and bred in Brooklyn, Neal is a product of the New York City public school system. He received his undergraduate degree in English from Brooklyn College, cum laude, and his degree in educational administration from St. John’s University.
Still a teacher at heart, Neal serves as an adjunct professor at both the College of Staten Island and Wagner College, where he teaches a course in school law.
Neal shares his life with his wife of 32 years, Donna. They consider their greatest accomplishments and most precious possessions their children: Michael and Jennifer.
So if you want to meet Neal and his happy family, join us when we honor him with our 2013 Educator of the Year Award on April 10 at the El Caribe Country Club caterers. Contact me for reservations, by e-mailing me Diegovega@aol.com. It will be a splendiferous evening honoring selfless individuals that have contributed so much to the community including Man of the Year Sid Schatzman, Woman of the Year Antonella Bove, Parent of the Year Linda Dalton, Couple of the Year Nydia and Joe Corace, and the Humanitarian of the Year is Brian Gotlieb.
Screech at you next week!Read Carmine's screech every Saturday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.