When Barbara Lowell was assigned to be the principal of Massapequa High School back in January, the Massapequa native was returning to the helm of building she graduated from back in 1992. In any other year, it would have been an enjoyable, yet nominally challenging experience. Then the pandemic hit in March. Classes shut down and switched to a virtual format and from here and much like the rest of the world, school officials had to figure out their new normal. That said, Lowell’s prior 22 years working in the district helped her transition into her new position.
“I was lucky enough to be appointed by the board before school ended up closing and went virtual,” she explained. “So I did have some time in January and February to get over to the high school and walk around with Brian Conboy, who was the interim principal, and see how things ran. Of course, throughout the spring as we were working virtually, I was working with him and getting involved. Even towards the end of June, as he transitioned out for July 1 and I transitioned in, we were still able to work together and he was still able to help me out. That’s because a lot of the events for the Class of 2020 that would have had to happen in June ended up happening in July. So a lot of the beginning of the summer was really spent planning for the culmination of the 2020 school year, which happened a little bit later because of the graduation happening later.”
One of six siblings, Lowell was born and raised in Massapequa. Education was essentially the family business given the fact that her mother taught in Herricks and three of her sisters are also educators. Coming up through Unqua, McKenna, Bernen and then finally Massapequa, Lowell’s played on the tennis and basketball teams. Social studies, French and English were among her favorite classes. Going to Molloy College, the future administrator knew she wanted to go into education and it would not be until her junior year when she decided social studies would be her content area. From here, Massapequa is all she knew going forward.
“I did my student teaching in Massapequa—part of it in 12th grade social studies classes at the high school and part of it at Berner in a seventh-grade social studies class,” she recalled. “Right out of college, I started subbing at Berner. From there, a social studies teacher went out on maternity leave and I got her heave replacement. The rest is in the books from there. I was a social studies teacher at Berner for about 15 years from 1998 on, teaching seventh and eighth grade social studies. I transitioned from social studies teacher to part-time attendance officer, eventually becoming a full-time Dean. That’s where I transitioned into administration, before moving on to being assistant principal. Then I moved from Berner to the high school. I held a lot of different positions along the way.”
As a steward for Massapequa High School, Lowell is excited to continue maintaining the high standard the district has set.
“Massapequa High School has such a great reputation as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence,” she said. “My goal is to make sure that we continue to move forward, improve and not rest on our laurels. There are so many different opportunities and different courses as we’re moving through these new styles of education that we can start to investigate. I just want to make sure that [the school] continues to grow and it continues to be a place everyone can flourish in.”