Merrick awards tenure and more to its staff ‘stars’


The Merrick School District Board of Education took time on April 4 to recognize the hard work of its teachers and administrators, as they granted tenure to Chatterton Principal Dana Bermas and Assistant Principal Scott Jackson. Five other faculty members were also recognized as “Merrick Stars,” as the room cheered.

Superintendent Dr. Dominick Palma spoke about the contributions Bermas has brought to Chatterton since entering the district as the school’s assistant principal in 2009. After serving for five years in this role, Bermas was promoted to the position of principal for the 2014-2015 school year.

Palma called Bermas a strong advocate for the students and families of Chatterton. The principal serves on the district’s leadership team and participates in numerous districtwide committees, including the Social Emotional Committee. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and psychology from Hofstra University and two Masters of Arts – the first in elementary education with specialization in math, science and technology and the second in educational leadership – from Hofstra and LIU Post, respectively.

“When Mrs. Bermas entered our district in 2009, she immediately embraced our mission of the beginnings of a bright future in Merrick,” said Palma. “I believe she has met her goals for nurturing a school where all students are supported to achieve their best.”

Bermas told those gathered that as an assistant principal, Jackson had made a “remarkable impact” on the Chatterton community, as she recommended him for tenure.

Jackson began his career in the district in 2003 as a teacher at Levy Lakeside School and received tenure for teaching three years later. Motivated by his passion for educational leadership, he became Chatterton’s assistant principal in 2014. Along with serving students, teachers and parents in this role, he has also co-chaired the district’s Technology Committee for three years, with much success. His expertise in technology has brought several advancements to the district, including upgrades to its technology systems and the introduction of a new digital reading system. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and a Master of Science in elementary education from Hofstra University, as well as an advanced graduate certificate in educational leadership from Stony Brook University.

“Mr. Jackson has demonstrated an unparalleled level of dedication, commitment and professional integrity in his role as assistant principal,” said Bermas. “He has a clear vision of student success in which we work side by side to carry out new initiatives and ensure the growth and development of all students and staff.”

Both newly tenured administrators were given bouquets of flowers from the Chatterton PTA and staff, as well as an enlarged picture of the Chatterton School building comprised of miniature photos of every student in the school.

Dr. Palma and the board then honored five more people as Merrick Stars, bestowing them with plaques. This awards program, established last school year, grants recognition each month to selected students, staff members and administrators who go above and beyond to help the school community, demonstrate exceptional character or conduct, or achieve a noteworthy accomplishment. Three of the recipients – Director of Student Services Dr. Salvatore Dossena, Levy Lakeside School third-grade teacher Dr. Jennifer Gargan and Chatterton School music teacher Dr. Richard Nasto – were awarded for having earned their doctorates, all of them from St. John’s University.

“As an educator, one of the things that pleases me most is when my colleagues go and pursue their doctoral degrees,” said Palma. “We have three individuals who have defended their dissertations and have been acknowledged for their extensive research and commitment to education.”

Also honored with Merrick Stars were Chatterton School teaching assistant Johanne Georgalas and first-grader Sara Dashiff. During a recent lunch period, Sara had choked on her food and immediately approached Georgalas for help, who successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver. Georgalas was recognized for her quick response that potentially saved a life, while Sara was granted a Merrick Stars T-shirt for doing the right thing in an emergency situation.

“Our district provides AED/CPR training to our teaching assistants every two years to refresh their knowledge,” said Dr. Palma. ”Doing so can help save the lives of our students in hazardous situations such as this.”