By Sabrina Petroski
Goodbyes are never easy, especially when a school district has to say it to a dedicated, longtime advocate for students.
At the end of the 2017-18 school year, April Victor will be retiring from her position as the principal of Terryville Road Elementary School in the Comsewogue School District. Victor, who began in January 2001, said the past seventeen-and-a-half years have been some of the most rewarding in her life.
She said she made it her mission to turn her school into a family, an effort that has encouraged parents, teachers and students alike to work together to foster a safe and happy community.
“That’s what makes leaving so hard, because I’m leaving a family,” she said.
Victor said her proudest achievement was making the school a place where the children are put first, and the teachers and parents have a say in decision making. Once a month the district’s parent teacher association celebrates students who are seen as outstanding citizens, an initiative inspired by the longtime principal. Nominated by their teachers, each student receives a certificate and their picture is put up in the hallway of the school.
“We have to celebrate them, build the kids up,” she said. “We have to be kind and thoughtful, and care about our school.”
Comsewogue Superintendent Joe Rella praised Victor as being a brilliant educator and leader, with the ability to build a great community. Rella’s grandson attends Terryville Road Elementary School, giving the superintendent multiple reasons to keep a close eye on the school’s goings on, and the district leader beamed when asked about the work Victor has been doing in her school.
“April Victor has such a tremendous impact on the district and school community,” Rella said. “She will be missed beyond words and is a truly wonderful person.”
In 2007, Victor was named a TBR News Media Woman of the Year in education, for her leadership skills and her efforts to make sure her kids got every opportunity to fulfill their potential. Her peers spoke in glowing terms about their departing colleague.
“Ms. Victor has long had a positive effect on all who have had the opportunity to pass through the halls and classrooms of Terryville Elementary School,” said Robert Pearl, principal of Boyle Road Elementary School. “From children to faculty and staff, she has always been a remarkable anchor within the Terryville community. Her educational expertise, ability to understand the needs of her students and her compassion have enabled her to make a difference in the lives of her students each day. Personally, she has been an outstanding role model for me as I transitioned from teacher to principal. She truly is the epitome of what every administrator strives to be.”
Victor delivered one final message to the Comsewogue community.
“Thank you for the opportunity to be with your kids and to lead them,” she said. “It’s been a blessing and I hope I made a difference. I’ll miss the energy from the children, and being able to witness their hard work and laughter. I will continue to pray for the community, for safety, joy and love.”