Newly appointed principal, Keith Malsky, has become a familiar face to both parents and students as he greets them each morning outside .
Malsky said greeting students "allows me to get a feel for them. It's all about paying attention. When I worked at BOCES, I used to greet kids as they got off the bus and it was possible to know what kind of day that child was going to have based on how they greeted me. It's important for students to know who you are."
To that aim, Malsky has relocated the principal's office from the rear of the school to the first floor hallway.
"It's all about being visiable and accessible," he said.
"I'm very happy to see him there," parent Nancy Ebel said. "I think he's a very involved principal and believe this is a positive move for our school."
Malsky, who began teaching Special Education when he was 22, has worked at BOCES and the Longwood School District on Long Island and in Florida. For the past 17 years, he has been a school administrator. But, he arrived in East Hampton in 2002, serving as Director of Pupil Personal Services and, later, as an assistant principal at the . Last winter, he moved to the middle school as an assistant principal and, this past fall, he replaced .
"I met Keith several years ago when he was chairman of the PPS Department and had a great experience with him then, helping families," said and parent . She believes he has brought "new energy." She said, "I know other parents feel the same way. We see him out there rain or shine saying 'hello' in the morning and that's greatly appreciated. He's a fabulous asset to our district and I hope he stays with us for many years."
When asked about the challenges facing the middle school, Malsky said that on a personal level he still wants school to stay fun.
"Curriculum delivery needs to be satisfying," he said. "It's a challenge to keep fun in the middle school program and still pay attention to the assessments."
The is participating in the Department of Education's and President Obama's "Race to the Top" initiative, which makes the school eligible for federal funding based on its performance in English Language Arts and Mathematics for fourth through eighth grades.
According to Malsky, "Teachers who teach math or ELA are held accountable and evaluated." Forty percent of the evaluation is based on state assessments while the remaining sixty percent is determined by how well teachers interact with students.
Without downplaying the significance of academic achievement, Malsky said that he is "focusing on the 60 percent, on how well students progress socially and emotionally."
Malsky said, "I would love not to worry about state assessments and make this school a "STEM' school focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math while incorporating language arts and social studies, because we could get so much more creative."
According to him, a STEM school would provide enrichment for "high level kids."
"The high level kids would naturally take the lead and be as creative as they wanted to be on projects," he said. "Right now, kids learn to measure a heartbeat in a science lab, but the STEM school philosophy would allow them to decide the parameters of how to measure a heartbeat, whether it means running a mile and comparing it to doing sit-ups, they would create the hypothesis."
Malsky is quick to add that the idea is something he'll continue to kick around. "It's something to throw out there," he said. "I'm not going to change anything my first year."