New assistant principal of North Shore Middle School focuses on the ‘wholesome child’


When the school year starts on Sept. 5, the incoming class of sixth graders won’t be the only fresh faces in the halls of North Shore Middle School. Right alongside them, Brendan Nelson, the middle school’s new assistant principal, will also make his North Shore debut.

“It hard to put into words to how excited I am,” said Nelson. “I admire this school system so much and can’t wait for the school year to begin.”

With a background as a social studies teacher and guidance counselor, Nelson, 38, is dedicated to encouraging a well-rounded academic atmosphere for students and supporting their social experiences as well. He formerly taught at Sewanhaka and Rye Neck High Schools and served as an advisor at Great Neck North and Rye Neck middle schools. “I am committed to focusing on the wholesome child, not just the student,” Nelson said. “Supporting their emotional well-being during their teenage years is extremely important to me.”

Nelson, who lives in Franklin Square, was attracted to North Shore upon learning how the community rallies behind its students. It said it was obvious that parents, teachers and administrators are responsive to children’s needs, and are driven by their progress. He loves the academic rigor that North Shore’s curriculum presents, and how it is balanced with the district’s focus on social-emotional learning. His own focus on mental health advocacy aligns with North Shore’s, so for him, it’s a perfect match.

Nelson is most looking forward to building relationships with students, their families and North Shore staff members. His wife, Donna, is a guidance counselor at the high school, and through her, he has seen how much people love working for the district. “I admire that this community learns from one another,” Nelson said. “Everyone is proud to be a Viking.”

Among the many goals Nelson has for the upcoming school year, his biggest is implementing a “positive behavior intervention system.” PBIS strives to recognize and acknowledge students who are kind and considerate and praise them for putting others before themselves. Essentially, it is a structure to reward students who are caught doing the right thing.

“Kids don’t have to do something monumental, or change the world to make a difference,” Nelson said. “I want them to know that being friendly and inclusive is just as powerful.”

When he is not at school, the proud father of two — he has a son, Gunnar, 6, and a daughter, Annika, 4 — can be seen on the baseball field, either up at bat or coaching, and participating in triathlons in his free time. He played baseball in college and has a sports background. Raised in Williston Park, he attended Mineola High School. He continued his education at Nassau Community College and Manhattan College.

Surprisingly enough, Nelson is of Swedish descent, which is rooted within Nordic culture. “The whole Viking thing is literally in my blood,” Nelson said. “Becoming the assistant principal of North Shore Middle School was clearly meant to be.”