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The Southern Bell
The Southern Bell

Interview with Ms. Henry

After 16 years of dedicated service to Valley Stream South, we had the opportunity to sit down...

63 Views | Published May 22, 2023 | Edited October 9, 2023

Tags: #interviews #interview #principal #retiring


Dash Alschuler-Pierce & Madeleine Fryling

The Southern Bell - Writer
(Dash Alschuler-Pierce & Madeleine Fryling) —

After 16 years of dedicated service to Valley Stream South, we had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Henry as she reflected on her years here at South and her journey into her next chapter of retirement.

Ms. Henry, what inspired you to pursue a career in education?

I grew up in Queens and I loved working with kids when I was in high school. I started as a camp counselor every summer, so I knew that I wanted to work with kids my whole life.

We heard that you worked at Hewlett HS as a cheerleading coach. What brought you to cheer, and how did you make your way to South?

I was the cheerleading coach there for many years. I was a cheerleader in high school, and I coached in two other schools previously, and my friend was a teacher at Hewlett, and they were looking for a coach and she recommended me, so I coached for many years there. Mr. Lipsky was actually a student when I was there, so I think that's how you found out! I was a high school math teacher, and then I became an assistant principal and then the next piece was to become a principal, and South looked appealing.

What do you believe to be your biggest achievement during your time here at South?

We were named a Reward School a few times and we are a National School of Character; South has been listed US World News and Report many times as a Best High School in Long Island. I also began the Family Service Day and Service Week. We've brought in a lot of the APs here like the Capstone Program, and we've continued to grow in the extracurricular, particularly I worked to provide more opportunities to our Life Skills students. It's also been really nice watching South evolve and change into a diverse and multicultural community. From the day I got here, I remember looking into the cafeteria to see all students sitting together, no matter what they looked like. They just sat with their friends, and I always have said to myself, “this is what our world should be,” because the diversity has always added to the strength of our school atmosphere. We celebrate diversity here, and that's one of my favorite things.

What was the process like, making the decision to retire?

I think that everything in life is a circle, and I've been here for 16 years – it's a lot of time! I’d like to spend more time with my family and friends and relax!

What will you miss most about the South community?

Oh, I think I'm going to miss the heart and soul of South and the kindness that I've seen here. One of the things that will always impact me is when Chris Schroeder died, and the school just stepped up. There's always been a sense of kindness and spirit when the chips are down. Also, the kids are just fun!

What are you planning to do with all your new time?

Well, I have been teaching at St. John's University at night so I'm going to take on another class and teach two classes. I’m going to travel–I love to travel. I’m going to be in a book club or two because I love to read, and I'll see my family and friends more.


The Southern Bell wishes Ms. Henry well on her next chapter of life!

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