As students in the Bayport-Blue Point school district anxiously await the first day of classes tomorrow, so does the new James Wilson Young Middle School Principal John Andruszkiewicz ’99.
“I’ve been doing this probably about 20 years,” the SJC Long Island alumnus said. “I think every new year, regardless of whether you’ve been in the same place for five years or 10, there’s always going to be some nerves when the school year starts.”
Andruszkiewicz, who just completed nearly seven years as assistant principal at Lindenhurst Middle School, got his start in education as a social studies teacher at Sachem’s Sagamore Middle School in Holtsville, where he student taught while studying history adolescence education at St. Joseph’s.
“The great teachers and administrators that I had growing up had such a positive impact on me,” said Andruszkiewicz, who moved to Ronkonkoma from Brooklyn when he was 7. “And during my first teaching job, I got to teach alongside all the people who had an impact on me.”
From Teacher to Principal
While he’s not new to the administrative side of middle schools, Andruszkiewicz, 42, of Sayville is excited about the new aspects of his role as principal.
“As a teacher, you’re more focused on what’s going on inside the walls of your class,” said Andruszkiewicz, who earned his post-master’s certificate in educational leadership from Stony Brook University. “As a principal, you take an all-encompassing approach — it’s what’s going on in every classroom, in the entire building, but also in the community… It’s a lot more nights, but that’s part of the gig; that’s the fun part: seeing the sporting events, and the plays, and the concerts. Those are the celebrations that make the job really worth it.”
And even though he no longer meets students in the classroom, the Brooklyn native is making sure the kids have plenty of chances to get to know him.
“You have to be out there in the morning to greet them,” the father of four said. “You sit in the cafeteria and eat with them. You listen to them. They like that, they want be heard. This kind of goes back to that old adage, ‘I don’t care what you know until I know that you care.’ From my experience, if you show these kids that you care, they’ll do anything for you. They want to know that you have their back.”
New Role, New District
Andruszkiewicz spent the summer preparing for his first year at James Wilson Young. He hosted meet and greets, so he could get to know some of the students and their parents, and they could get to know him.
“They’re enthusiastic, and they’re excited,” he said of the students. “I can’t wait to listen to some of their ideas and some of the things they really want to see at the school. Especially the sixth graders, because we’re kind of in the same boat. We’re both starting this new adventure together.”
Andruszkiewicz excitedly mentioned an upcoming visit from former WWE wrestler Mark Mero, who will speak to seventh and eighth graders on Sept. 17 about his poor choices and how he turned his life around.
“A lot of kids at this age don’t understand how to deal with stress,” Andruszkiewicz, a catcher for SJC Long Island’s baseball team during his time in college. “And we’re asking them where they want to go to college, they’re doing band, they’re doing extracurriculars — it’s like they’re constantly on overload. They need to learn how to stop, take a breath and deal with their emotions so they can create positive relationships with their peers, teachers and other adults. Yes, we want them to do well academically, but we want them to do well socially, as well as emotionally, and Mark really hits on that to a T.”
— John Andruszkiewicz (@JWYMiddle) August 30, 2019