A 45-year career in education, split almost exactly down the middle between the Massapequa and Franklin Square school districts, will soon come to a close for Lucille Iconis, who will retire as Massapequa’s superintendent of schools on Sept. 30. She looks back fondly on the many accomplishments, the great relationships she made and the thousands of students whose lives she touched.
“I know it’s time,” she said. “A fresh perspective that a new leader will bring is always healthy to any organization. There’s always room for improvement and advancement.”
Eager to make a difference, Iconis earned her teaching degree in record-fast time from Hofstra University. At 20 years old, she was hired as a second grade teacher at Washington Street School in Franklin Square. Earning a little more than $11,000 a year, she couldn’t believe she was getting paid to do something she loved.
Iconis later became a reading specialist and in the early 1990s went back to school to earn her administrative certification. She put that to use for the first time in 1999, leaving Franklin Square after 23 years and arriving in Massapequa as assistant principal of East Lake Elementary School. A year later, she was named East Lake’s principal.
She loved working in a school environment, so it was with some reluctance that Iconis moved to Massapequa’s central office in 2005 as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. During the next eight years, her position evolved, eventually overseeing the K-12 curriculum as well as special education. In 2013, the board of education appointed her as superintendent of schools.
As an assistant superintendent, Iconis spearheaded the transition from a half-day to a full-day kindergarten program and worked to add enrichment opportunities for all elementary students. One of her proudest achievements is the creation of the Eagle program for special needs children, which began with two classes at East Lake and has since expanded to the secondary level, where students learn life skills in the Career and Community Connections program.
In her eight years as superintendent, Iconis cites the move of the sixth grade to Berner Middle School as one of her greatest accomplishments. She said that despite the controversy at the time, she believed it was the right decision for students. In the four years that have passed since the first sixth grade class entered Berner, the transition has exceeded her expectations.
Other enhancements during her superintendency include the creation of the Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools (FLES) program, which includes Spanish instruction for students in grades 3-5, introduction of the research-based Advanced Placement Capstone program at the high school, launching an engineering program in partnership with Hofstra University and an increased emphasis on social and emotional learning including the adoption of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence RULER philosophy.
“If the students are at the centerpiece of every one of your decisions,” she said, “you can never be wrong.”
East Lake was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education when she was principal and Massapequa High School earned the distinction while she was superintendent. Iconis is also proud of the way the district navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and praises the administrators, teachers and staff for their commitment to children during a difficult time.
“We provided a level of instruction that was far superior to many districts,” she said, noting that full-time, in-person instruction was available to all students by late October of last year.
Iconis, along with Deputy Superintendent Alan Adcock, made it a priority to improve the district’s facilities. Massapequa is nearing completion of a capital project to renovate every classroom at the middle school and the six elementary schools. Every classroom in the district has also been air conditioned and athletic facilities have been enhanced at the high school and middle school.
Iconis and Adcock both started with the district in 1999, and have been in central administration together for 16 years. Fittingly, they are retiring a month apart.
“I do believe that Alan and I are leaving Massapequa in a better place than when we arrived,” Iconis said.
She will miss the concerts, the graduations and moving-up ceremonies and the special events at each school like the annual tributes to veterans. One of her favorite traditions each year is reading Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden at new teacher orientation, to inspire the next generation of Massapequa educators.
“I’ll miss it,” she said, noting that in retirement she would like to travel and teach some education courses at the college level. “Twenty-two years ago, I was fortunate to land in job in Massapequa. I’m very proud of our accomplishments. It’s amazing how much the district has moved forward. It’s a testament to our masterful, talented and compassionate educators, who make me so proud to be part of this wonderful profession.”
-Submitted by the Massapequa School District