The halls of Roland A. Chatterton Elementary School in Merrick are adorned with student artwork: bulletin boards full of construction paper projects, crayon drawings and wobbly handwriting. On a recent Friday, children clad in flannel pants and superhero shirts for Pajama Day skipped down the hall in neat lines.
In the main office, two children stood by the desk of an administrative assistant and presented a piece of artwork they created for Principal Cindy Davidowitz, carefully spelling their names aloud as the assistant wrote a note to Davidowitz to accompany the drawing.
It’s a common scene at Chatterton.
Davidowitz, who has been a beloved figure at the school since she became principal nine years ago, announced her retirement on April 8 after three decades as an educator in the Merrick School District, which includes three elementary schools, Chatterton, Birch and Levy-Lakeside. Chatterton’s assistant principal for the past five years, Dana Bermas, will succeed her on July 1.
Davidowitz began her career as a teacher at Levy-Lakeside in 1985. She was a special education teacher there for 15 years before becoming a teacher for the district’s gifted program, called APEX, from 2000 to 2001. She then served as Chatterton’s assistant principal for four years.
While teaching, Davidowitz was also a counselor at Twin Oaks Day Camp in Freeport for four years, before moving on to Tyler Hill Camp, an eight-week sleep-away camp in Tyler Hill, Pa., for eight summers. She gave up camp work when she became Chatterton’s assistant principal, a role she said she wanted to dedicate herself to entirely.
Since she was a child, Davidowitz said, she knew education would be her life’s work. “When you can teach children to be upstanding citizens and teach them to be compassionate and respectful,” she said, “you’re teaching them skills that they will always remember you by.”
Being principal was her opportunity to ensure that children would learn in a loving environment so they would become self-confident learners, she said. One of her main goals, she added, has been to give students the skills they need to “best support their communities when they become adults.”