By Dori Bergmann and Chloe Drescher
For Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s new Assistant Principal David Nylen, the most rewarding aspect of his job is working with a wide variety of students, parents, and other staff members on a daily basis. His contact with people is the most significant difference, besides content, between his former position as a math teacher and what he does now. As opposed to previous years when he was with students all day long, students are now just one of the many populations that he works with. Mr. Nylen especially enjoys working alongside Principal Paul Gasparini, who he feels is an “exceptional leader.” “I learn a lot from him every day,” Mr. Nylen says.
Students feel that Mr. Nylen is doing just as well as an assistant principal as he did as a math teacher. Junior Laura Wengert liked having Mr. Nylen in her freshman year of Honors Geometry. “He was a fine teacher because I did well in his class,” she says. Junior Jane Brown, who had math with him last year, specifically appreciated how much time was spent going over the homework. “He had these random discussions to start off each class,” says Elizabeth DiGennaro, a sophomore who was in the same class as Brown. DiGennaro felt that these helped her to see how geometry can be used in the everyday world. “I like him; he was a good math teacher so he will be a good assistant principal,” says junior Alex Way.
Junior Jennie Duquette had him for homeroom for two years. “So far this year, I think he’s great; he interacts well with the students,” she says. Senior Daria Oganesyan adds that “it’s a good, but different change.”Junior Karley Platenik agrees with Oganesyan; “I think it’s kind of weird because it’s a lot different from being a math teacher.” “He’ll do awesome,” says senior Connor Kissane. Like Kissane, sophomore Jake Ike hopes he will do a good job. Senior Mike Mulvihill feels that, with his background in math, Mr. Nylen will be “a well rounded assistant principal. He’s a great guy.”
What does it take to go from a math teacher to assistant principal? There were many courses at Syracuse University that Mr. Nylen had to complete in order to become assistant principal, the last of which being an internship. He interned at J-DHS last school year. “I got my feet wet,” he says, “and it left me feeling prepared for my new role so that the transition wasn’t terribly different.” He earned a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS), which is necessary in order to receive an administrative degree in New York State.
As a result of his preparation, Mr. Nylen feels that it wasn’t necessarily a difficult transition from being a math teacher. One of the challenges that he faced was a steep learning curve. “But overall, the adjustment has been good,” he says. “It’s been an exciting start of the school year.”
Mr. Nylen says his “main areas” include technological aspects of the building, and being an administrator for freshmen and sophomores as well as for the Special Education Department. Mr. Gasparini and Assistant Principal Will Dowdell both feel that Mr. Nylen is very knowledgeable in technology. “Education is moving toward technology, so it’s good that he’s strong in that field,” says Mr. Dowdell, who hopes to learn from Mr. Nylen. Mr. Gasparini describes Mr. Nylen as “outstanding, dependable, very smart, and hardworking.” Since he became an assistant principal, Mr. Gasparini feels that Mr. Nylen’s knowledge base about special education has grown.
Teachers at J-DHS think Mr. Nylen has what it takes to be a great assistant principal. English and creative writing teacher Matthew Phillips congratulates Mr. Nylen for stepping into the job very well. “After his internship, he seems to know the ropes,” Mr. Phillips says.” “So far,” Mr. Philips says, “he has been extremely responsive to my questions and has had a great presence in the halls.” School monitor James Tuck agrees with Mr. Phillips that Mr. Nylen is doing is a good job following up on things. “He looks great in a tie, and we’re all proud of him,” adds student assistance counselor Will Hartley.