South Country Central School District appointed Manouchka Daniel as an assistant principal at Bellport Middle School. The board of education unanimously approved Daniel, and she began serving in the position on Dec. 14. Incoming from Westbury Union Free School District, Daniel served as an administrator and, beforehand, a teacher.
“My ultimate goal is to play a positive role in the lives of the children that I interact with on a daily basis,” Daniel said, continuing on to say that an educator’s impact is limitless. “You may not necessarily see it at that moment, but later on in life, the students will remember that one teacher, principal, security guard, cafeteria employee, custodian, secretary, assistant principal, dean, coach, or whomever who said one thing that basically changed the trajectory of their lives.”
Daniel said she strives to always serve as a spark of hope for a student, regardless of their circumstances.
“Every child, whether you come from an affluent family or from a family that lives below the poverty line, needs someone to be in their corner and to be, sometimes, their lifeline,” Daniel said. “As a teacher, you get to do that on a daily basis because you interact with your 30 children almost every day. As an administrator, you get to do that as you interact with them in transitions, and also the way you interact with the staff because you are then giving the staff ideas on how to impact the students.”
Daniel served as a teacher for 11 years before taking on an administrative role, beginning her career at a charter school in New York City and then for Uncommon Schools Leadership Prep Brownsville in Brooklyn; she then she spent some time working for the Department of Education, during which she was also working in Brooklyn.
In the 11 years, Daniel has taught kindergarten, first grade, third grade, fourth grade, and sixth grade. She taught English language arts during her time teaching sixth grade. While teaching sixth grade at Westbury, Daniel received tenure.
Several relatives on Daniel’s maternal side are/were educators, including principals, deans and teachers. And many family members on her father’s side are/were in the health care field, including nurses and physician assistants.
Daniel’s initial career choice landed her in the business world working as an operations analyst and eventually moving her way up to being an assistant vice president for Barclays Capital. Daniel decided to change careers in her mid-20s and pursue the field of education.
“I decided to go back to my first love, which was education,” she said, adding that she had multiple opportunities at her home church to teach. “I just enjoyed it and it made me happy.”
Now in administration, Daniel described an administrator’s role as a servant leader.
“You serve humbly, and you do your best to lead with precision but also remembering that, even though you are in a position of leadership, it is important that you collaborate and that you honor the voices of those who you are leading,” Daniel said.
In the short time that she has worked in Bellport—just about three weeks—Daniel has expressed gratitude and appreciation for those around her and the position she received.
“Bellport is a beautiful community, and the children are beautiful,” she said. “The staff have been so welcoming and so kind. My principal is a wealth of knowledge, and he is constantly sharing and imparting and guiding. The secretaries here avail themselves. The responders here are always helping me when I get lost in the building. It is just a beautiful community, and it is a beautiful building to be in. I am blessed to be here. You can tell the aura or the culture of a place when you come in there, and that is the culture here.”