Position: Assistant Principal
School: Westbury High School's Ninth Grade Academy
School District: Westbury Public Schools
City, State: Old Westbury, NY
Music that Describes Paul
Paul Pelech was nominated by his colleague, Patricia Mueller.
Westbury High School has reached and exceeded its maximum capacity. As a result, the district now has a Ninth Grade Academy located at Nassau Community College. The Academy was established in the Fall of 2017, and it proved to be a major success for the school community and a great transition for the freshman class. When the plan for this school was first developed, there was one administrator selected to lead the creation and operation of it: Dr. Paul Pelech. In his second year as a high school assistant principal, he was unanimously selected to lead what started as a vision and what he turned into reality. His experience in the classroom as an educator and outside of the classroom as an administrator, as well as his technological expertise and caring rapport with the community made the decision easy.
In just one year, there was a notable increase in freshman student attendance under Dr. Pelech's guidance and supervision. More students achieved honor roll and high honor roll status, and what once was initially an idea that parents and students were very concerned and nervous about, became the most desired, safe, and organized building in the district. Due to its success, the Academy is running for its second year.
Although Dr. Pelech's title is assistant principal, he often takes on the roles and responsibilities of being his building's principal. He truly leads every aspect of the building, and he has created an atmosphere where faculty and staff enjoy coming to work, and where students feel safe and supported at all times. On top of running this building, he still supports faculty, staff, and students at the main campus (grades 10-12), providing staff development sessions, running meetings, collecting and analyzing data, conducting observations, and assisting both high school and district administration in any way needed. When he walks into the high school building, students, staff, and faculty flock to him wanting to talk to him, seek advice, or say hello. For those who may not see him physically during the day, he is always just an email or phone call away, and the entire school community knows that.
To paint a picture of what a day looks like in Dr. Pelech's building, the Ninth Grade Academy is a two-level building housing only freshman students. A cafeteria was constructed mere days before the start of school (under the guidance of Dr. Pelech), classrooms were built, and scheduling was completed. Transportation was arranged for every student, all support services were made available, and all safety measures were put into place ahead of time and reviewed by faculty and staff through training by Dr. Pelech. Additionally, all new technology (either pre-existent in the building or newly installed) was introduced and utilized immediately. All of this was accomplished through Dr. Pelech's hard work and dedication.
Dr. Pelech arrives at the building before the rest of the faculty. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave, making sure that every student has arrived and departed safely. When the students start arriving in the morning, Dr. Pelech is always at the front door, enthusiastically greeting every student as they step off of their bus or are dropped off by a parent. While doing this, he is also scanning the students to see who may be having a rough day or who might need additional support. In addition to students, he will also greet every staff and faculty member with a smile every morning.
Once the students are dismissed from breakfast to first period, Dr. Pelech will visit every classroom to greet every class and conduct a quick observation of the entire building. If there are any issues that need to be addressed, he never has a problem jumping right in. He will pull out various tools to fix a refrigerator, assist teachers with technological issues in the classroom, handle all situations with students, meet with concerned parents who may need to talk, and drop everything he is doing to provide any support needed.
Dr. Pelech does not have his own office like other administrators. His desk is located right in the main office, and his door is always open. The students, staff, and faculty are invited to speak with him regarding any ideas, comments, or concerns at any time. If he is not at his desk, he is somewhere in the building handling a situation. Dr. Pelech never stops. Throughout the day, you can find him in the hallways, always a visible and well-known presence to everyone there. Many times, during some of the lunch periods, you may even find students at his desk requesting extra help from him, which he gladly will give. Dr. Pelech loves being an educator and does not believe that the love for teaching students and learning ends when becoming an administrator. Instead, it only makes the student body even greater, including the children, the staff, and the faculty.
At the end of the day, Dr. Pelech is outside assisting in dismissal and the loading of the buses, regardless of the weather. He waves to every bus as they depart from the Academy, only to go back into the building to supervise the afterschool activities that take place there. Once those are done and the building is clear, he can sit down at his desk and start on any tasks he needs to get done to wrap up that day or prepare for the following day, such as announcements, reports, debriefing of any situations, contacting homes, etc.
"Having been in the field as a teacher for 14 years, I have worked for various types of administrators in various capacities. Dr. Pelech is the hardest working administrator I know," said Mueller. "I had the pleasure and opportunity of working with him as Lead Teacher last year, the first year of the Academy. He was always willing to guide and mentor me in my first administrative role, teaching me how to handle and deal with various situations. Dr. Pelech always works with a team mentality. There is no "us" and "them." We all work together and make sure that the priority is the students. He has never once deviated from this mentality."
Dr. Pelech works tirelessly to support everyone he works with. He never settles for anything less than his best and is never afraid to deal with any situation that comes his way. He handles everything he encounters with the same amount of compassion, caring, support, and drive, while always keeping the students' best interest and well-being in mind.
"There is no better person that I can think of, that I know or have ever worked with, that is more deserving of this award, than Dr. Pelech. He has touched and changed the lives of everyone he works with in all capacities," said Mueller. "He truly embodies what the field of education is all about, and I am extremely grateful and consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to work with him. If I ever become an administrator, I hope that I can be even half the administrator that he is."