Full-circle journey from A.W. Becker student to principal inspires school community
The new A.W. Becker principal, might not seem so new to many people in the community. Debra Neubart, who was appointed to the position June 6 by the Board of Education, is no stranger to the assignment, the school or the district.
As a child, Neubart walked the same halls as the students she is now charged with overseeing.
“I love to share with the students that I was once a little girl and a student walking in these halls,” Neubart said. “This was my elementary school.”
But she admits some things have changed.
“When I was a student, it was just the front of the building here,” she reminisced. “The entire back of the building didn’t exist.”
And the changes aren’t limited to the building. Education has also transformed since Neubart’s days here as a student. Part of her vision as principal is to embrace this evolution and develop more project-based learning and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives in the school.
“It’s a world where students are growing up with technology and that’s how they are learning.”
In many ways, Neubart has seen this transition firsthand at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk. After graduating from the district, she came back as a substitute teacher during college and was then hired by the district in 1990 as an elementary and middle school teacher. She also held the positions of social studies coordinator, enrichment specialist, curriculum specialist and academic intervention provider, all at RCS.
“It’s very rewarding to feel like I’m giving back to the community I graduated from, a community I care deeply about,” she said.
As part of this community, Neubart believes in leading the way to cultivate strong, positive relationships between students, families, teachers and staff. She personally attends as many school events as she can in order to be involved with the families.
It is also her daily ritual to greet students and families each morning and say goodbye each afternoon, a custom Neubart learned from former principal Tricia Carlton, who passed away this past February.
“When Tricia became ill, we were obviously hopeful that she would be back with us soon,” Superintendent Robert Libby said. “Unfortunately, and with great sadness, that was not the case. But we know we have a fantastic successor in Debra Neubart”
Neubart took on the role of acting principal for the 2016-17 school year, carrying out Carlton’s vision for the elementary. Now, with her new appointment, she is excited to bring forward her own vision while seeing Carlton’s goals through to completion.
“It’s amazing how learning can bring you anywhere – it brought me here,” Neubart said. “I want to let students know that you can do anything you put your mind to. I never knew that I would grow up one day and be your principal, but here I am. It’s very exciting.”