New Northeast Elementary principal ready to “listen and learn”

This story was originally published by Ithaca Week and also appears in The Ithaca Voice.

By Taylor Rescignano and Emily Fedor

A new era has begun this week at Northeast Elementary, as newly installed Principal Lily Talcott embarks on her mission to continue education excellence and build relationships with students and parents.

Talcott’s  primary objective as principal is to step in, support and bring a sense of trust to the Northeast community.

Talcott began her career in the district in 2006 as a teacher. Then in 2013, she was promoted to master educator, an administrative position she held for the past two years..

“My passion is really being with kids and being with teachers,” said Talcott. “I still really see myself as a teacher, diving in and thinking about teaching and learning in deep ways in collaboration.”

Talcott is entering her new position at Northeast as the school is being highly recognized as one of the top schools in the nation. Under previous principal Jeff Tomasik, Northeast achieved a blue ribbon honor and was named a reward school in New York state for two consecutive years.

I feel like I had one of the best jobs in all of Tompkins County,” Tomasik said.

ICSD Superintendent Luvelle Brown said that Tomasik made a positive impact on the school during his 12 year term as principal at Northeast.

“To be a building principal in the same building for that long is an indication of your success anyway,” said Brown. “[Tomasik] did an outstanding job and built a great team.”

Talcott, an ICSD graduate, has stepped in for Tomasik, who was recently appointed principal of Boyton Middle School. She admitted that while becoming principal wasn’t always part of her plan, she reached a point in her career where climbing up the ladder just made sense.

“When I was teaching…  I sometimes just felt like there was a way that maybe the system of supports could help us do the things that we always wanted to do as teachers,” Talcott said. “That’s when I started to think I could help teachers do those amazing things for kids in a really really supportive environment.”

In her former position as master educator, Talcott was able to support programs involving early childhood education and staff development, but she was more removed from the kids than she would have liked to be. Talcott said that is partly what inspired her to look into becoming principal, a position which Superintendent Brown believes is an exceptional fit for her after observing her in her element as a teacher at Enfield Elementary.

“She connected with the young people,” said Brown. “I started encouraging her to start looking at administration. The best administrators are also great teachers, and she took me up on that… This is just the next thing for her—being a principal at Northeast.”

Tomasik said he also strongly believes Talcott will be a great leader at Northeast.

“[Lily] is humble, collaborative, and knows more than I do about curriculum and instruction,” said Tomasik. “…She is smart, capable, and child-centered.”

As Talcott prepares for the arrival of Northeast’s nearly 390 students on Sept. 9, she most looks forward to the learning that will take place this school year as the children have the opportunity to “grow in ways we never thought possible.”

Northeast will be hosting “meet the principal” events to introduce the students and their families to Talcott, who is prepared to “listen and learn” from parents, staff and administration alike in order to build a strong support system. She believes that the school is very high-functioning, but she is willing to take suggestions to make it work even better.

“We’re building our own capacity to lead,” said Brown. “…We’re building a sustainable model of excellence, which both Lily and Northeast are a part of.”

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