Loida Lewinter named Watervliet Elementary School Principal
When students step into Watervliet Elementary School this month, a new principal will be waiting to greet them. Although Loida Lewinter may be a new face at the elementary school, she is familiar to many district families having served as the assistant principal a few short blocks away at the junior-senior high school prior to her appointment as leader at WES.
During her years as assistant principal at WJSHS, Mrs. Lewinter gained valuable experience in many areas of building leadership. Among her responsibilities, Mrs. Lewinter conducted teacher observations and evaluations, worked with teachers and staff to further implement the Response to Intervention (RTI)* framework and served as an advisor for the Character Education/No Place for Hate program. (*RTI is a school-wide system of organizing instruction and support resources to deliver high-quality instruction designed to meet the diverse needs of learners.)
Born and raised in Albany, Mrs. Lewinter earned a bachelor's degree from the State University at Albany where she majored in math and minored in art. After a short stint as a stockbroker, she enrolled in graduate school at University of California (UC) Irvine, earning her Masters in Business Administration (MBA). Mrs. Lewinter then attended California State San Marcos and received a Certificate of Advanced Study in Middle Level Education, then began teaching in California.
Mrs. Lewinter moved back to the East Coast and taught at MS 167, Wagner Middle School, one of the largest middle schools in Manhattan. She earned Certificates of Advanced Study in School Building and School District Leadership from the College of Saint Rose in Albany.
what made you decide to become principal of Watervliet Elementary School?
I saw this as an opportunity to bridge the practices and knowledge between the two buildings in the district.
I have had experience with Response to Intervention (RTI) and literacy at the junior high school level, as well as math first as a teacher and then an instructional coach, and now I want to be able to have an impact here at the elementary school. Also, being mom to two young boys, I enjoy the curiosity of elementary age students and am excited to work with younger students!
What did you learn or experience during your two years as assistant principal at the junior-senior high school that will be helpful to leading the elementary school?
I worked with a dedicated community of students, teachers and families at the junior-senior high school, and I am grateful for the experiences I have had during that time, which have prepared me for this new role.
My experience as assistant principal provided me the opportunity to refine my leadership abilities and also my skills as an instructional leader through the observation process I was able to support teachers from multiple disciplines in their efforts to better serve students.
The ability to make connections with students is so important because they all want to learn, no matter their age.
Finally, I would also say that I was able to build a sense of community and develop programs and experiences within the school that I can now share with elementary staff and hopefully bridge between the buildings.
What qualities do you think are essential for school leadership?
I think to be an effective leader it is essential to mentor and provide guidance to both students and the teachers and staff I work with. It is important to have a clear vision and be able to articulate it. Also to practice strong communication skills, be a good listener, and maintain the ability to follow through, but also remain flexible. It’s important in this role to always ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff, as well. And at the end of the day, being able to laugh either at yourself or at circumstances of certain events that have happened is a necessity.
What are your goals, long term or immediate?
My overall goal is to establish and grow sustainable programs at the elementary school that will inspire a love of learning in students that they will carry with them as they move to the junior/senior high school.
Another goal is to ensure the data shows the growth we are working towards and to continue implementing RTI principles while using data to inform decisions about instruction, grouping of students and professional development with the end goal in mind to prepare students for college and careers.
That said, my first goal will be to get into classrooms and meet all the students and staff so that I can get to know the elementary school community.
What are you looking forward to most as the elementary principal?
I look forward to engaging in the teaching and learning that will help the most curious minds learn and grow. For me, getting and keeping students excited about learning and being in school, and exposing them to new ideas – the world, cultures, countries – is important.
What do you want elementary parents, students, teachers and staff to know about you?
That I have a curious mind, and I’m not afraid to ask questions. I am truly a life-long learner. I understand the need not to take myself too seriously all the time and let my goofy side take over every now and then. I am a hard worker and will make every effort to provide the best experience for students, teachers and families with the resources that are available. I love to travel – but took a break when I had my children. Now that my boys are a little older, my whole family was able to visit the Phillipines, where I lived and worked for about six months. I have also lived in California and in New York City.
What is your favorite book, or current book that you are reading?
With two active boys at home, I don't have much time for personal reading, but I do read a lot of children's books! I do enjoy reading a good magazine, too.
Any other thoughts you'd like to share?
Watervliet is a great district with great families. I am excited to be working here and for this opportunity.