Our Founding Leader and Her Legacy

Dear Families, Staff, Students and Friends of the District 20 PreK Center Program


We began this program seven years ago with a goal of establishing a wonderful foundation for our children in becoming lifelong learners. Our hope was to give our families an extended home where they would feel welcome and be engaged in this most important time in their child's educational journey. Over these years, we have been home to thousands of children who have benefitted from the expertise and love and commitment of our wonderful teachers, paraprofessionals, staff and administrators. They have gone on to realize success in elementary school as they have received a solid beginning. For the vast majority of these children, we have been their first experience in school. We have encouraged them to discover, explore, and think out of the box as they approach problem solving. We have celebrated them as they have developed their social skills and their ability to work and play with others. And we have marveled as these children have built their vocabulary and can carry on full conversations. And I am proud of all their accomplishments.


I am so thankful for the unwavering commitment of all the teachers, paraprofessionals, staff and administrators who have worked in our program. We have grown to be such a well-respected school not only in our District 20 community but throughout the City. Ours has always been the largest PreK Center program in New York City. We have added wonderful opportunities for our children - dual language instruction in Arabic, Spanish and Chinese; integrated and specialized programming for our students with special needs; Pre K and 3K for our three and four year old students; and inclusion of the Reggio Emilia philosophy for early childhood education in every classroom. Yes, indeed I am proud. I am writing this message with such mixed feelings as I have decided to retire from the Department of Education after working here 29 years. I am so incredibly proud of the program we have built together and feel confident in the leadership that will replace me. We will now have two principals - Lauren Napolitano, with Assistant Principal Drita Koci will oversee the Z011 (65th Street); Z067 (84th Street); Z072 (5th Avenue); Z074 (Brooklyn Army Terminal); Z075 (Bay 11th); and Z112 (62nd Street) sites, and Danielle Bennett, with Assistant Principals Kelly Mazzariello and Jennifer Paradise will oversee the Z013 (46th Street); Z073 (Fort Hamilton Parkway); Z094 (71st Street); Z099 (59th Street); and Z111 (93rd Street) sites. Working together, they will ensure that the program will become even stronger and more successful in the years to come.


My sincere thanks for the support and the confidence that was bestowed upon me as we embarked on this new program so many years ago. I am eternally grateful for the work of my staff, including our incredible Parent Coordinator Camille Loccisano, our secretaries Victoria Arcaro and Dawn Hansen, our custodial staff in all the buildings, our school aides, our school safety agents, my assistant principals, including Maria Genao Duran who also recently retired, and our wonderful site coordinators, I am indebted to the support of the Community Superintendent Dr. David Pretto and his predecessor Karina Costantino along with the entire District 20 office. You are all very special individuals whom I will never forget. And most of all, thanks to the thousands of families who have believed in us and have entrusted their children in our care.


My most sincere gratitude for the wonderful experience I have had leading this program.

Warmly,

Dianne Gounardes

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