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New Pound Ridge Principal Meets His Students

POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – It’s not every day you get to sit down with your elementary school principal and hear him read “The Hungry Caterpillar” to you.

But that’s exactly what students from the Pound Ridge Elementary School got to do at the Hiram Halle Memorial Library on Thursday afternoon.

With former principal Peter Politi stepping into retirement, the Bedford Board of Education named Tim Gembka the school’s interim principal earlier this summer. Gembka officially took over the reins in July and since then has been busy getting to know the faculty, as well as the students and their parents. Events like the one at the library on Thursday provide him with such an opportunity.

“A principal’s job is so multi-faceted – but anytime you get to interact with the children, it’s the best part of the day,” Gembka said, after meeting with his new students and reading them several books. “This helps the kids feel more comfortable. It lets the parents get to know you and breaks the ice a little.”

Parent Brent Brezina brought his kids, Maya and Joshua, both of whom will be entering kindergarten this fall, for just that reason – to help them feel more comfortable.

“We’ve been explaining to them who he principal is,” Brezina said. “They know he’s the boss. When I was a kid, you didn’t get to see the principal unless you did something wrong. Now, my kids know you get to see the principal even when you get to do good stuff.”

Brezina said the school district has done a good job of helping his kids get acclimated to their first school year, even before the doors officially open.

“They’re getting to meet everyone,” he said. “We’ve been to the school three or four times and got to look at the classrooms. Next week we get to meet the teachers. They’re excited.”

Gembka said getting familiar with his new job has been hectic, but not overwhelming. He’s been in the education business for 30 years and said kids are kids wherever you go.

“I’ve been at all levels,” he said. “I was principal of a K-8 school and I started out as a high school math teacher. Kids may have different demographics, but they all have similar needs. And there’s a lot of similarity between the parents. They all want to be good advocates and we promote that. We want them to be advocates for the students.”

Gembka, who most recently worked for a charter school in Brooklyn, said moving upstate to rural northern Westchester County hasn’t been a problem. He was a principal in Ossining from 1997 to 2008.

“I know all about the Bedford School District,” he said.

The Daily Pound Ridge will have a full feature and profile on Pound Ridge Elementary School’s new principal next week.

What do think the biggest challenge facing Mr. Gembka is as he takes over the reins of Pound Ridge Elementary? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheDailyPoundRidge

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